Kirin 980: Huawei’s most powerful mobile chipset so far is unveiled at IFA 2018


Following last year’s IFA unveiling of the AI-enabled Kirin 970 chipset, Huawei has once again used the German consumer electronics exhibition to launch Kirin 980, which will soon find its way into a range of Huawei and Honor-branded devices.

Only yesterday Honor stole the thunder from Huawei’s Kirin 980 announcement by revealing the Magic 2, which was the first officially named device to use the new chipset.

With no confirmed release date for the Magic 2, it is almost certain that Huawei will be first to get devices to market with the new Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro devices to be announced on October 16 at an event in London.
Kirin 980 is the result of over 36 months of joint research and co-engineering, with the world’s first 7nm process and 6.9 billion transistors.

Work began in 2015, culminating in engineering validation in 2017 and full scale production starting in 2018.

Users can expect a 20% speed improvement over the 10nm Kirin 970 in today’s flagship Huawei and Honor devices, along with a 40% power reduction.

The new chipset also boasts an eight-core setup, with four Cortex A76 cores (two ‘big’ cores running at 2.6GHz and two ‘middle’ cores at 1.92GHz), plus four ‘little’ cores comprising A55 at 1.8GHz.

New flex-scheduling is designed to switch cores on and off quicker to improve power efficiency and reduce lag, with only all eight cores ever likely to be called into service for the heaviest load from gaming.

Loading times are further improved by support for 2133MHz LPDDR4X RAM, offering 20% more bandwidth and 23% less latency.

Even bigger savings come from the new Mali G76 GPU that boasts a 46% performance increase over Kirin 970 and a staggering 178% power efficiency gain.

A new dual ISP (Image Signal Processor) is said to offer 46% faster camera processing speed gains.

AI capabilities are vastly improved too, thanks to a dual NPU (Neural Processing Unit) that speeds up image recognition and now allows for object recognition to go from contours to more detail, such as identifying arms and legs.

Real time image processing can now do video as well as images, while real time object segmentation goes from rough to precise.

For communication, the Kirin 980 chipset also offers up a Cat 21 LTE modem for speeds of up to 1.4Gbps.

In order to work with the highest number of mobile operator setups, the total speed is made up of:

4×4 MIMO + 256QAM, 3CC CA for up to 1.2Gbps and
2×2 MIMO + 256QAM, 1CC for up to 200Mbps.

Improvements in the modem allow for smoother data streaming in normally tricky data environments, such as on metro trains and high-speed rail services.

As stated above, the first device(s) using the new chipset are expected to come to market in October 2018 and I hope to be able to compare Kirin 980 with Kirin 970 to see how good these performance gains translate in the real world.

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