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Huawei Comes Gunning for Qualcomm, Samsung with New Mobile SoC

Huawei makes a splash with 7nm and 5G modem SoC

By CBR Staff Writer

Huawei has revealed a new homegrown 5G System-on-a-Chip (SoC) for its smartphones dubbed the Kirin 990, built on the new 7nm technology from Taiwan’s TSMC foundry.

The chipset, which features an integrated 5G modem, turns Huawei’s guns on competitors like Qualcomm, as Chinese firms continue a push to strengthen their chip technology amid a trade war with the US that has seen IP restrictions tighten.

The Kirin 990 will power Huawei’s forthcoming flagship smartphone, the Mate 30, which is due for release on September 19. (That looks set to run on an Android fork without any Google applications or updates, after the company withdrew support).

Kirin 990 Specs

The chipset, which relies heavily on Arm IP, includes:

  • Over 10 Billion Transistors
  • Download speed of up to 2.3Gbps
  • Upload speed of up to 1.25Gbps
  • A 16-Core Arm Mali-G76 GPU
  • 5th Gen Dual ISP

To put that in context, it means downloading a 2GB song in seconds. It is markedly more compact than rival configurations, it said announcing the mini-powerhouse at the IFA event in Berlin, requiring 36 percent smaller area than an a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and X50 combination, or Samsung Exynos 9825 and 5100.

It is also Qualcomm’s first flagship tier SoC to feature its indigenous DaVinci Neural Processing Unit (NPU) architecture, which featured in its Kirin 810 earlier in 2019.

Read this: Google Suspends Huawei Support: Will My Phone Still Work? (And Other Questions)

The release comes as Chinese companies double down on their own processor units amid trade headwinds. The Huawei CPU release comes after Alibaba revealed its own indigenous processor based on the open source RISC-V chip architecture in July.  (That will be used to underpin edge computing and AVs, Alibaba said.)

Read this: Alibaba Reveals New RISC-V Semiconductor, as China Moves to Wean Itself off Western Chips

Presenting the new chip at the X event in Berlin today, Huawei’s Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group said: “Huawei’s AI API has now been accessed 1.6 trillion times. Can you imagine? We’re at mobile AI 2.0.

He added: “This tiny chipset, smaller than my fingernail, has 10.3 billion transistors on it.” The release is the industry’s first flagship-tier mobile SoC to feature an integrated 5G modem. It is 4G/5G multi-mode compliant; i.e. can transfer data over both simultaneously, and is capable of recording 8K HDR videos at 30fps.

Banner image credit: Matti Blume, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike Licence

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