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Huawei’s Kirin 980 is the world’s first 7nm mobile SoC

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Aug 31, 2018, 8:02 pm IST
Updated Aug 31, 2018, 8:02 pm IST
The Kirin 980 is also the first SoC to embed faster Cortex-A76 cores and Dual-NPU.
The Kirin 980 will be seen shortly on the upcoming Huawei flagships later this year. (Photo: Huawei)
 The Kirin 980 will be seen shortly on the upcoming Huawei flagships later this year. (Photo: Huawei)

At the IFA 2018, Huawei introduced the Kirin 980 SoC. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC manufactured with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer Company’s (TSMC) 7nm process and it combines best-in-class performance, efficiency, connectivity features, and Dual NPU AI processing power.

“Last year, we showed the world the potential of On-Device AI with the Kirin 970, and this year, we’ve designed an all-around powerhouse that not only features outstanding AI capabilities but also brings cutting-edge raw performance to consumers,” said Huawei CEO Richard Yu. “Equipped with all-new CPU, GPU and Dual NPU, the Kirin 980 is the ultimate engine to power the next-generation productivity and entertainment applications.”

 

The cutting-edge TSMC 7nm process technology enables Kirin 980 to pack 6.9 billion transistors within a 1cm per square die size, up by 1.6 times from the previous generation. Compared to the 10nm process,  Huawei claims the 7nm process delivers 20 per cent improved SoC performance and 40 per cent improved SoC efficiency.

The Kirin 980 is also the first SoC to embed Cortex-A76 cores, which are 75 per cent more powerful and 58 per cent more efficient compared to their previous generation. In an octa-core configuration, the CPU in Kirin 980 is comprised of 2 x high-performance Cortex-A76 cores; 2 x high-efficiency Cortex-A76 cores; and 4 x extreme efficiency Cortex-A55 cores. To take full advantage of this unique configuration, Huawei developed the Kirin CPU subsystem with Flex-scheduling technology that flexibly allocates the right cores to the right tasks. This solution designates the large high-performance cores to handle immediate, intensive workloads; the large, high-efficiency cores to provide sustained performance; and ultra-efficiency cores to tackle every day, light activities with extreme power efficiency. Running at higher clock speeds compared to the prior generation, Kirin 980 enables quicker app launch times, better multi-tasking and a generally smoother user experience.

 

Huawei has integrated the Mali-G76 GPU into the Kirin 980 that offers 46 per cent greater graphics processing power at 178 per cent improved power efficiency over the previous generation. Mali-G76 also features an innovative clock boosting technology that utilises AI to intelligently identify gaming workloads and adjust resource allocation for optimal gaming performance.

The Dual NPU Kirin 980 elevates the On-Device AI experience with greater processing power and intelligence. The synergy between the Dual NPU results in an image recognition capability that is greater than the sum of two—the Kirin 980 can recognise up to 4,600 images per minute, up 120 per cent compared to Kirin 970. Additionally, Kirin 980 supports common AI frameworks such as Caffee, Tensorflow and Tensorflow Lite, and provides a suite of tools that simplify the difficulty of engineering On-Device AI, allowing developers to easily tap into the processing power of the Dual NPU.

 

For better optics, Huawei integrated its proprietary fourth-generation ISP into the SoC. In addition to a 46 per cent increase in data throughput compared to its predecessor, the new ISP also provides better support for multi-camera configurations, as well as an all-new HDR colour reproduction technology that can manipulate picture contrast to highlight objects on various parts of an image. In addition, Kirin 980 utilises the Multi-pass noise reduction solution that accurately removes artefacts without scrubbing away image details, resulting in better quality on images taken in low-light scenarios. Another new feature of the ISP is improved motion tracking. When a user attempts to snap a photo of a moving person, the ISP can still recognise the subject with 97.4 per cent accuracy. The Kirin 980 adopts a new pipeline dedicated to processing video captures, allowing the camera module to shoot videos with 33 per cent shorter delay.

 

To deliver the best connectivity to users of Kirin 980-powered devices, Huawei integrated the world’s first modem supporting LTE Cat.21 with a peak download speed of 1.4Gbps. Additionally, the Kirin 980 supports carrier aggregation, even across frequency bands.

The Kirin 980 will be seen shortly on the upcoming Huawei flagships later this year.

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