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Key Information About the Huawei Kirin 970

Huawei held the 2017 Kirin Media Briefing themed "Pooling Collective Intelligence" in Beijing on September 25, 2017. At this meeting, Huawei's first mobile AI computing platform, Kirin 970, made its debut in China after its initial launch at the IFA exhibition. Huawei presented the innovations of the Kirin 970 in mobile broadband connection and mobile AI computing, and also showed how the Kirin 970 can use on-device AI to extend users' vision and hearing.

As a new-generation chipset applied to Huawei's flagship smartphones, the Kirin 970 features ultra-fast connection, intelligent computing capability, HD audio-visual effects, and long battery life. The Kirin 970 is built through the most advanced TSMC 10 nm process technology, which integrates 5.5 billion transistors in an area roughly the size of a fingernail. The Kirin 970 combines an octa-core CPU, a 12-core GPU, dual ISP, a 1.2 Gbps high-speed Cat.18 LTE modem, and an innovative HiAI mobile computing architecture. The Kirin 970 delivers about 25x the performance of four Cortex-A73 cores with 50x greater energy efficiency. With greatly improved capabilities in image recognition, voice interaction, and intelligent photography, smartphones powered by the Kirin 970 can better understand the user's every need. With the release of this chipset, Huawei aims to enable broader use of AI technology in the application field and provide consumers with a never-before-seen AI experience right in the palm of their hands.

The 1.2 Gbps ultra-fast modem helps the mobile Internet set a new record in connection speed.

The mobile Internet has become an important platform for people to communicate and socialize with each other. Users' need for the mobile Internet has been experiencing explosive growth. As a result, the frequency spectrum has become a scarce resource. Global carriers make full use of their frequency spectrum resources to provide users with the optimal experience. However, fragmentation of the global frequency spectrum is still a common problem facing global carriers, smartphone vendors, and chipset vendors. To cope with the challenges of complex frequency bands around the world, the Kirin 970 has made breakthroughs in the communication field and adopted advanced technologies such as 4x4 MIMO, 5CC CA, and 256-QAM to aggregate fragmented frequency spectrums into the maximum bandwidth. The aggregated peak capability of the Kirin 970 supports a download rate of up to 1.2 Gbps, achieving the highest connection speed of the mobile Internet. The Kirin 970 can realize the highest rate combination of each carrier and helps world-wide users achieve a higher Internet surfing speed.

In addition to the frequency spectrum fragmentation challenge, the Kirin 970 development team is always working to make Internet and call services as convenient as water and electricity supply for users around the world. The team aims to bring users a mobile Internet that can be accessed with the tap of a finger at any time in every inch of space, from densely populated commercial centers, to high-speed railways and forest edges with poor network coverage and weak signals. The Kirin 970 is optimized for various complex communication scenarios. In the challenging high-speed railway environment, the Kirin 970 underwent field tests covering more than 400,000 kilometers in China, Germany, and Japan, where high-speed railways are most advanced. After the tests and optimization, the Kirin 970 now enables users to enjoy high-quality voice calls with fewer dropped calls and a high download rate in high-speed railway environments.

The Kirin 970 is the first to put dual-card dual-4G dual-VoLTE technology into commercial use. This feature enables both the primary SIM card and the secondary SIM card on a smartphone to support 4G VoLTE calls and provide the same HD voice calls and video calls.

The innovative HiAI mobile computing architecture features superior intelligent computing capability.

As AI technology leads the mobile Internet into the intelligent interconnection era, smartphones that can simply perceive the world around us are not enough. Ideally, smartphones will be able to understand people's needs in an innately human way, providing them with appropriate information and services based on that understanding. The core of the AI technology is the ability to process mass data. Traditional computing architectures centered on the CPU, GPU, and DSP are no longer sufficient to meet overwhelming demands for computing performance in the AI era.

On-device AI processing capabilities are especially important, because smartphones need to process data in real time and at any time, while protecting users' private data as effectively as possible. As a result, on-device performance is the greatest obstacle for the further development of the mobile AI technology. Compared to servers, smartphones face greater challenges in size, power supply, heat dissipation, and power consumption. Smartphone SoC chipsets need to deliver the best possible performance, while ensuring the highest possible performance density and energy efficiency. This imposes ultra-high requirements on chip design.

The Kirin 970 development team selected the heterogeneous computing architecture with the highest energy efficiency to dramatically improve the AI computing capability. They designed a new HiAI mobile computing architecture which integrated a dedicated neural-network processing unit (NPU) and delivered an AI performance density that far surpasses any CPU and GPU. Compared to four Cortex-A73 cores, the new heterogeneous computing architecture of the Kirin 970 delivers about 25x the performance with 50x greater efficiency. Simply put, the Kirin 970 can perform the same AI computing tasks faster and with much lower energy consumption. One example of this is image recognition speed. The Kirin 970 is capable of processing about 2005 images per minute. This AI computing speed is far higher than that of other chipsets in the industry.

The Kirin 970's HiAI architecture also features significantly improved CPU and GPU performance. The CPU energy efficiency of the Kirin 970 has been improved by 20%. The Kirin 970 is the first chipset to use the Mali G72 MP12 GPU. With 20% higher graphics processing performance and 50% higher energy efficiency than the earlier-generation GPU, the Mali-G72 MP12 GPU enables large 3D games to run more smoothly and longer, and facilitates AR/VR through the new-generation mobile Internet.

The new self-developed dual-camera ISP and the AI Smart Eye help users better perceive and understand the world.

The Kirin 970 aims to enable smartphones to capture the real world just as it is seen through human eyes. With the newly designed dual ISP, the Kirin 970 provides further improved photography performance. While maintaining its competitive edge in traditional black-and-white photography, the Kirin 970 provides systematic optimization and improvement in snapshot and night-scene photography. With the dedicated hardware face detection module, the Kirin 970 is capable of capturing face information more accurately, making portrait photographs more natural.

In everyday life, photographing moving objects often requires the photographer to act very quickly, or results in blurred or incomplete pictures. The Kirin 970 has optimized the entire photographing process in depth, including the response time, focus, motion detection, exposure policy, and more. The response time and processing time have been reduced by 30%. The hybrid focus solution has been further optimized and improved. Targeted improvements have been made for the flat-region and pure-color object scenarios, in which focusing is most difficult. The face focus tracking policy has been upgraded for more precise focus on human faces. The 4-level motion detection mode estimates the status of the moving object and sets exposure parameters to proper values, ensuring that a satisfactory photograph is captured each time.

The night scene has always been a key field for improvement in the photography effect of Kirin chips. With the AI technology, the Kirin 970 can more accurately identify the night scene and precisely improve the effect of the picture taken at night.

The Kirin 970 integrates the hardware face detection module, which features optimized face detection in complex scenarios such as multiple skin colors, hats, glasses, mouth masks, partial face blocking, and profile shots. Colors and light filling for faces have been improved, and face focus tracking has been optimized on the basis of face detection, improving the portrait photography experience and delivering more natural portrait photographs.

The Kirin 970 AI technology pushes smartphone photography to evolve from the "clear image" stage to the "Smart Eye" stage. The smartphone is able to not only perceive the real world, but also understand and process it by intelligently identifying the photography environment, judging the human face, body, and objects to be photographed, and even identifying people's feelings, behavior, and movement.

With 32bit@384 KHz HD audio and AI noise reduction, the Kirin 970 brings users an immersive music experience.

The Kirin 970 provides a complete USB Type-C digital audio solution, leading the industry in key technical areas such as audio specifications, performance indexes, and power consumption. The Kirin 970 strictly controls the audio quality, supporting full-channel HD lossless playing from the decoder and the audio DSP to the USB controller. The Kirin 970 supports a sampling rate of up to 32bit@384 KHz to retain various raw details of audio, letting users fully enjoy HD music.

The Kirin 970 supports AI noise reduction technology and uses a deep learning algorithm to effectively suppress unsteady noise and enhance voice signals, improving the speech recognition rate in harsh environments. The speech recognition rate is greatly improved in high-speed (up to 120 km/h) and noisy driving scenarios.

With the 10nm process technology and 5.5 billion transistors, battery life is further prolonged.

The Kirin 970 is built through the most advanced TSMC 10nm process technology, which integrates 5.5 billion transistors in an area roughly the size of a fingernail. The Kirin 970 has overcome the power consumption challenge brought on by the increase in transistors, and guaranteed long battery life for calls, music, video, and gaming on smartphones through performance improvements.

Through openness and cooperation in the age of AI, the Kirin 970 opens up infinite possibilities with intelligence.

AI is a fundamental technology and will be driven by new application scenarios. With breakthroughs in performance, on-device AI computing will bring about a broad range of brand-new AI experiences. However, new developments in AI require collaborative innovations across the industry, involving tens of millions of developers as well as the experience and feedback of hundreds of millions of users.

To support these collaborative innovations, Huawei will release the Kirin 970 as an open mobile AI computing platform for developers and partners, providing comprehensive support for multi-app modes and machine learning frameworks. This will enable developers to take full advantage of the Kirin 970's AI computing capability using preferred methods, and develop creative applications. Together with developers, Huawei hopes to contribute to the future of mobile AI computing applications and an intelligent society with unlimited imagination.

Huawei Mate 10 flagship smartphones powered by the Kirin 970 has been released on October 16, 2017. The new mobile AI computing platform will open up infinite possibilities and deliver a new mobile experience to consumers around the world.