Huawei announces Kirin 980 SoC, world’s first 7nm mobile AI chip with Dual NPU

At the ongoing IFA 2018 tech show in Berlin, Germany, Chinese tech giant Huawei has announced its latest and greatest mobile chip – the Kirin 980. The Kirin 980 SoC is Huawei’s flagship chip and is successor to the Kirin 970 that we have seen in a lot of Huawei and Honor flagships lately.

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The Kirin 980 SoC comes with many firsts. It’s the world’s first 7nm chip, world’s first chip with ARM’s Cortex-A76 CPU, world’s first chip with Mali-G76 GPU, world’s first chip that supports 2133 MHz LPDDR4X RAM, world’s first chip with Dual NPU, world’s first chip with dual ISP, and, world’s first chip with LTE Cat.21 modem.

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The Kirin 980 SoC consists of eight cores having “3 energy efficient architecture”. Out of these eight cores, two are “super cores”, two are “large cores”, and, the remaining four are efficiency cores. In short, the four efficiency cores will be used for less intensive tasks whereas the other four power cores will be used for much more intensive tasks. Huawei says that this Kirin 980 SoC, which is based on 7nm fabrication process, comes with 20% performance improvements and 40% improvements on power efficiency when compared with 10nm process.

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Comparison of Kirin 980 and Snapdragon 845

The Kirin 980 also comes with dual NPU (Neural Processor Unit) which improves AI performance. With dual NPU, Huawei says AI-based image recognition on the Kirin 980 happens at a rate of 4500 images per minute. The Kirin 980 also comes with dual ISP which reduces shooting delays by 33%.

The Kirin 980 also comes with improvements on the connectivity front. It is the world’s first chip that comes with LTE Cat.21 modem which supports download speeds of up to 1.4 Gbps and upload speeds of up to 200 Mbps.

All in all, Huawei’s Kirin 980 SoC beats Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 SoC on many fronts. Almost all the Android flagships that have been launched this year came with Snapdragon 845, and that’s going to be the case with the Android flagships that will be launched till the end of 2018. As far as Kirin 980 is concerned, Huawei has said that the first smartphones to come powered with this chip will be their Mate 20, and, Honor’s Magic 2 that’s already teased by the company to come with a slider design.