Huawei’s Kirin 990 processor has 5G, A.I. overload, and 10 billion transistors

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Huawei’s Kirin 990 processor has 5G, A.I. overload, and 10 billion transistors
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Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Huawei isn’t holding back with its new mobile processor, the Kirin 990. Not only does it have 5G, but it also has more Artificial Intelligence capabilities than ever, more raw power, and even better graphics and imaging performance than its predecessors. Apart from the specifications, Huawei isn’t holding back in making comparisons with Qualcomm’s star chip, the Snapdragon 855, either.

The Kirin 955 comes in two guises, a 4G chip and a 5G version, which the company says is the world’s first flagship 5G system-on-a-chip, based on the others available being multi-chip offerings. However, the Kirin 955 supports Sub-6 5G bands with four antennas inside, and not mmWave. This isn’t a surprise, given how the majority of the markets Huawei enters is focused on Sub-6 5G connections for now.

10 billion transistors

Built using a 7nm process, the Kirin 990 is small but manages to pack in an astonishing 10.3 billion transistors — more than any other mobile chipset available. Hooked up to a 5G signal, the chip could potentially max out at download speeds of 2.3Gbps and 4G/5G combined upload speeds of 1.25Gbps. Huawei has also worked hard to ensure the Kirin 990 stays connected even on high speed transport, with the company stating it achieves 19% higher speeds compared to other chips in this situation.

The Kirin 990 5G has eight cores, comprising of two ARM Cortex 2.86Ghz cores, two 2.36GHz Cortex A76 cores, and four Cortex A55 1.95GHz cores. The GPU has been significantly upgraded over the Kirin 980, and is now a 16-core Mali G76, plus it supports both UFS 2.1 and UFS 3.0 memory standards, and has a Smart Cache for lower power consumption.

The Neural Processing Unit (NPU) has 4.7x higher performance than the Kirin 980, and is a massive 24x more efficient. Huawei said it supports 90% of the neural models available, giving developers huge scope for making apps. That’s all before we get to the new image noise level reduction tools, promising 30% less noise in stills and 20% less in video, all from a clever new Image Signal Processor (ISP) with some DSLR-level tech inside.

Snapdragon comparisons

Huawei made a point of comparing the Kirin 990’s performance to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip. It claims that overall, the Kirin 990’s single-core performance is 10% higher than the 855, and 9% higher on multi-core. The GPU has 6% higher performance over Qualcomm’s top chip, but more importantly it has 20% better powe

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