Huawei beats Qualcomm to 7nm with Kirin 980 processor and it's a game changer

Greg S

TS Evangelist

Huawei has unveiled its latest SoC at IFA 2018, the Kirin 980. Debuting as the first ever 7nm mobile processor, the chip is stunningly small for packing an array of impressive features.

Based on the ARM Cortex-A76 and Mali-G76, the Kirin 980 also includes a Cat.21 modem to reach speeds of up to 1.4 gigabits per second on cellular networks. As the first mobile SoC paired with 2,133MHz LPDDR4X RAM, the Kirin 980 is going to put up some impressive performance in memory intensive tasks.

The chip's octa-core architecture comprises two high performance A76 cores running at 2.60GHz, two additional A76 cores at 1.92 GHz and four power-efficient A55 cores running at 1.80 GHz with less L2 cache.

On top of containing the fastest modem for cellular data, the Kirin 980 also features the fastest Wi-Fi available for smartphones. Rated for speeds of up to 1,732Mbps, the Snapdragon 845 falls short at just 866Mbps. Even using a third-party modem still only allows Qualcomm's solution to reach 1,083Mbps.

Compared to Huawei's last generation of chips, the Kirin 980 is said to achieve a 20 percent improvement in performance, while reducing power consumption by 40 percent. Huawei claims to have gone through over 5,000 prototypes to achieve these gains.

Going head to head with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845, the Kirin 980 is said to have 20 percent more memory bandwidth with 22 percent less latency. For gamers, the Kirin 980 pumps out around 22 percent more frames than a Snapdragon 845, while using more than 30 percent less power.

A double neural network processing unit has been added for faster image processing. With the help of the dual NPU, an AI image recognition engine can scan through 4,500 images per minute. The Snapdragon 845 can only go through around 2,400 images, while Apple's A11 scrapes by at just under 1,500 images per minute.

The major advantage that Qualcomm possesses at this point is that its products are actually being used in smartphones that are currently on the market. The top-end Snapdragon 845 SoC has been out for months, and its sequel, the 7nm Snapdragon 855 is supposed to be sampling to partners by now, however we're not expecting any products to be powered by it until early 2019.

Set to be powered by the new Kirin 980, Huawei's Mate 20 is set to be announced on October 16, while the Magic 2 is expected at some point before the end of the year.

Image Credit: Anandtech, Ian Cutress

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Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Wow.... wonder how long until Samsung uses them instead of Qualcomm.... now that would be interesting :)

Seriously though, what we'll really need to see are the comparisons to the 855 Snapdragon... if it's close (or better), then this is a huge blow to Qualcomm.
 
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COMANCHE1232

TS Rookie
Wow.... wonder how long until Samsung uses them instead of Qualcomm.... now that would be interesting :)

Seriously though, what we'll really need to see are the comparisons to the 855 Snapdragon... if it's close (or better), then this is a huge blow to Qualcomm.
20% game changer..............................................................20.1% your life will never be the same, 20.123654% caos on the streets for 6 months
 

p51d007

TS Evangelist
Except for the battery performance, what's the use? Unless you are benchmark geek, the speed of the chips is pretty much and has been fast enough for the majority of smartphone users.
It's like getting a 100,000.00 sports car, that goes from zero to 180mph, then driving it in the city in stop & go traffic. What's the point? Like I said, the battery performance would be nice, but the speed really doesn't matter. It's not like you are solving for Pi, or doing quantum mechanical enginnering.
 
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kapital98

TS Guru
Except for the battery performance, what's the use? Unless you are benchmark geek, the speed of the chips is pretty much and has been fast enough for the majority of smartphone users.
It's like getting a 100,000.00 sports car, that goes from zero to 180mph, then driving it in the city in stop & go traffic. What's the point? Like I said, the battery performance would be nice, but the speed really doesn't matter. It's not like you are solving for Pi, or doing quantum mechanical enginnering.
Competition. Which will lead the prices to go down a little bit for Qualcomm. It could also significantly change the mid-range market.

In the short-term, I doubt this changes much in the high end. Maybe long term. But it's easy to see this having a significant impact on price and/or the entire mid-range market.
 
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7TomPl

TS Rookie
Except for the battery performance, what's the use? Unless you are benchmark geek, the speed of the chips is pretty much and has been fast enough for the majority of smartphone users.
It's like getting a 100,000.00 sports car, that goes from zero to 180mph, then driving it in the city in stop & go traffic. What's the point? Like I said, the battery performance would be nice, but the speed really doesn't matter. It's not like you are solving for Pi, or doing quantum mechanical enginnering.
If you play "Our World" or "Pokemon Go" you will need it!!!
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Except for the battery performance, what's the use? Unless you are benchmark geek, the speed of the chips is pretty much and has been fast enough for the majority of smartphone users.
It's like getting a 100,000.00 sports car, that goes from zero to 180mph, then driving it in the city in stop & go traffic. What's the point? Like I said, the battery performance would be nice, but the speed really doesn't matter. It's not like you are solving for Pi, or doing quantum mechanical enginnering.
It’s these CPUs that are limiting the games we can play on mobile devices right now... as they get better, we’ll see more software that takes advantage of their power... soon you’ll be able to play Witcher 3 on a tablet with no sacrifices... give it a few years...
 

poohbear

TS Evangelist
Except for the battery performance, what's the use? Unless you are benchmark geek, the speed of the chips is pretty much and has been fast enough for the majority of smartphone users.
It's like getting a 100,000.00 sports car, that goes from zero to 180mph, then driving it in the city in stop & go traffic. What's the point? Like I said, the battery performance would be nice, but the speed really doesn't matter. It's not like you are solving for Pi, or doing quantum mechanical enginnering.
Well a 100k sports car is a status symbol. They dont care if they can or cant use the speed in the city because that's not their priority.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Well a 100k sports car is a status symbol. They dont care if they can or cant use the speed in the city because that's not their priority.
Depends on who you're talking about... Plenty of people buy 100k+ sports cars because they live in places that they CAN be used... like Germany, where lots of roads have no speed limits...
 

Abraka

TS Addict
"...AI image recognition engine can scan through 4,500 images per minute"

Yeah, great. So the main purpose of the AI will be faster spying on the customers. Thank you. I'll pass. I'd rather have a less intelligent, slower spying device.