Huawei has been using its own processors in its smartphones for quite some time now. Only a few other manufacturers can claim to do so. In fact, there are only two – Samsung and Apple. Their in-house Kirin processors have generally been viewed as an alternative to Snapdragon processors from Qualcomm. The major competition was between the flagship processors, between Kirin 970 and Snapdragon 845 where the Snapdragon 845 mostly came out on top. But Huawei says it has turned things around with their new 7nm Kirin 980 processor.
Huawei debuted their new and tiny processor in IFA Berlin 2018. To no one’s surprise, they went all in to shred the Snapdragon 845 into pieces. They also highlighted the improvements they made over their previous flagship processor, Kirin 970. We will be talking about the key points made in the event.
Huawei Kirin 980 is based on TSMC 7nm process technology which enables it to pack 6.9 billion transistors within a size of a thumb-nail. The Snapdragon 845 and the Kirin 970 were based on a 10nm process technology. What this means for consumers is 20% improved performance and 40% increased power efficiency compared to the Kirin 970 processor.
The Kirin 980 is also the first SoC (System on Chip) to use Cortex-A76 based cores. The Snapdragon 845 uses Cortex- A75. Huawei has claimed that this means a 37% boost in performance and 32% better power efficiency.
On the memory front, Huawei says the Kirin 980 has 20 percent better bandwidth and 22 percent lower latency than the Snapdragon 845. In practical terms, that means faster app launches. In gaming applications, Huawei says that the 980 produces 22 percent higher frame rates than the 845 with 32% lower power consumption.
The other major feature of the Kirin 980 is the dual NPU. With other manufacturers adopting AI on their phones, Huawei has upped its game by adding dual physical cores for just that purpose. The NPU on the 970 was already ahead of its game. It could perform AI-assisted image recognition tasks at a rate of 4,500 images per minute. By the same measure, the Snapdragon 845 reached 2,371 and Apple’s A11 got only 1,458.
Also, the Kirin 980 will offer the world’s fastest smartphone Wi-Fi speed, clocking in at 1,732Mbps, which is substantially higher than the Snapdragon 845’s best of 866Mbps with a Qualcomm modem or 1083Mbps with a third-party modem.
Looking at all these metrics, the Kirin 980 seems to be a really competent processor that would give Qualcomm some trouble. But, we won’t know how it performs in real life until we see it on a phone. That is said to happen by the end of the year with Huawei’s Mate 20.