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Key Information About the Huawei Kirin 980

[Berlin, Germany, August 31, 2018] Mr. Yu Chengdong (Richard Yu), CEO of Huawei's Consumer BG, delivered the keynote speech "The Ultimate Power of Mobile AI" at IFA and announced the launch of Huawei's next-generation mobile phone SoC chipset Kirin 980. The Kirin 980 is the fastest, highest performing, most energy efficient, and most intelligent chipset on the market. These outstanding features allow the chipset to provide more powerful, rich, and smart experiences to mobile users.

The Kirin 980 is the world's first commercial mobile phone SoC chipset made with TSMC's 7 nm process, integrating 6.9 billion transistors to improve both performance and energy efficiency. It is the first of its kind developed based on ARM Cortex-A76, with a dominant frequency of up to 2.6 GHz. The design of the Kirin CPU subsystem and intelligent flex-scheduling mechanism are ideal for achieving optimal energy efficiency while providing excellent performance. The Kirin 980 is also the world's first commercial SoC chipset that uses the innovative Mali-G76 GPU. With its optimization technology and guaranteed battery life, the Mali-G76 GPU allows users to play massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) smoothly. The Kirin 980 supports the world's fastest LPDDR4X with the rate up to 2133MHz, 14% faster than the industry average and is the first to integrate dual NPUs. This provides the most powerful AI computing capability available in the industry and offers increased support for AI applications, bringing mobile phones into the smart era. The Kirin 980 is the first to support LTE Cat.21 in the world, which achieves stable and fast mobile communication connections in various complex communication scenarios, with an industry best peak download rate of 1.4 Gbit/s. The Kirin 980 uses Huawei-developed ISP 4.0, improving the pixel throughput by 46%, supporting more cameras, and greatly enhancing the noise reduction and color reproduction capabilities. These features allow mobile users to enjoy clear pictures and good video experiences. A more powerful and open HiAI ecosystem provides improved AI development capabilities and a convenient development environment for developers.

World's First 7 nm Commercial Mobile Phone SoC Chipset Kirin 980 Again Leads Industry Trends

Mobile phone SoC chipset manufacturing processes directly affect the final chipset performance and power consumption. Compared with the current industry standard 10 nm process technology, the TSMC 7 nm manufacturing process used to create the Kirin 980 improves chipset performance by 13%, energy efficiency by 25%, and transistor density by 1.6 times, enhancing both performance and energy efficiency.

This process upgrade is accompanied by a subsequent evolution in the design of 7 nm chipsets. Physically, silicon-based semiconductors can only be reduced to 7 nm in size before the electrons end up flowing uncontrollably from one gate to the next. To push right up to this 7 nm limit, the Kirin 980 had to be able to address the limitations of current semiconductor technology and the three-dimensional resistance and capacitance of transistors.

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.

To address these issues, Huawei's chipset team has started the basic research on the new 7 nm process three years in advance, and gathered the advanced IP and system design capabilities of the industry and Huawei to effectively solve the problem of 7 nm mass production. With a heterogeneous architecture for system convergence and optimization based on the CPU, GPU, NPU, ISP, and DDR, Kirin 980 integrates 6.9 billion transistors in less than 1 square centimeter. The stronger CPU, GPU, DDR, smarter NPU, better ISP, and faster modem bring the chipset an excellent energy efficiency ratio to achieve comprehensive leadership in performance and energy efficiency.

To enable the latest 7 nm process to provide mobiles users with stable and reliable premium experience, Kirin 980 has undergone a large number of reliability tests on the basis of implementation of high performance and high energy efficiency. The comprehensive verification from the chipset to the entire system provides the most reliable technical assurance for mobile phone users.

Innovative Kirin CPU Subsystem and First Commercial Application of Mali-G76 GPU Achieve Top Energy Efficiency Ratio.

These days, people use mobile phones constantly, meaning operations must be smoother and app responses must be faster. Continuous breakthroughs in performance limits and run speeds are therefore one of the important requirements for a mobile phone SoC chipset. To cope with this challenge, Huawei has taken a number of steps to improve the Kirin 980’s capabilities.

The Kirin 980 is the first SoC chipset in the world to put Cortex-A76 into commercial development and use. Compared with its predecessors, the Cortex-A76 CPU improves single-core performance by 75% and energy efficiency by 58%. In addition, the Kirin CPU subsystem was also designed based on previous-generation multi-core architecture. In addition to the adaptation and optimization of terminal services on the CPU core, the CPU scheduling algorithm and bus are thoroughly designed to ensure that the Kirin CPU subsystem meet the increased user response and battery life requirements.

The Kirin CPU subsystem uses an intelligent flex-scheduling mechanism that creates a 3-level energy efficiency architecture consisting of two super-big cores based on Cortex-A76, two big cores based on Cortex-A76, and four little cores based on Cortex-A55. Compared with the traditional big.LITTLE design, the 3-level energy efficiency architecture provides more precise scheduling layers. This not only allows the CPU to adapt flexibly in heavy-load, medium-load, and light-load scenarios, but also greatly reduces the CPU power consumption in actual integrated service scenarios.

The Kirin 980 is also the first in the industry to put the Mali-G76 GPU into commercial use. Compared with its predecessors, the Mali-G76 GPU improves performance by 46% and energy efficiency by 178%. This GPU can work seamlessly with Huawei’s innovative AI frequency modulation scheduling technology, which predicts task load by learning frame rates, smoothness, and touchscreen input changes in real time and dynamically and intelligently detects performance bottlenecks. Especially in gaming scenarios, this scheduling technology improves each frame’s load prediction accuracy by more than 30% when compared with traditional prediction methods. This effectively improves average frame rates and greatly reduces game jitters and freezes, making mobile games play more smoothly. Take the heavy-load 3D game NBA2K18 as an example, which has a max frame rate is 60 fps. The Kirin 980's max frame rate is just below 60 fps, while competitors cannot even come close. This provides a gaming experience far beyond the industry average and allowing users to play heavy-load games smoothly and seamlessly on their mobile phones.

Fourth-Generation Self-Developed ISP Upgraded for a More Beautiful World.

As a core function of mobile phones, photography has always been a focus of Kirin chipsets. For more beautiful and clearer images of the world, the Kirin 980 uses a new fourth-generation self-developed image signal processor (ISP) with a pixel throughput rate that is by 46% higher than its predecessors. Image color and grayscale can be adjusted by region and the ISP supports more cameras than ever before, bringing the world brand-new mobile photography experience. This chipset is also equipped with new HDR color reproduction feature to adjust image color by region and better balance color and detail within photos.

The Kirin 980 is equipped with new and more accurate multi-pass and multi-noise reduction technology to reduce noise in low-light or night-time shoots. This makes details in resultant photos more complete and clear. For photos of moving targets, tracking accuracy has been greatly improved and the facial recognition and detection rate increases to 97.4%, helping mobile phones clearly capture exciting moments.

Apart from taking beautiful static photos, more and more users are also beginning to turn their eyes towards video recording. Especially with the popularization of short video applications, the demand for videos recording on a mobile phone is increasing. To help users improve their video recording experiences, the Kirin 980 uses dedicated pipeline technology to improve video definition. Video shooting delay has been decreased by 33%, and users no longer need to cart around heavy professional camera devices. They can easily make clear video clips only with a mobile phone.

Premium Smart Experience Enables Kirin 980 to Lead Mobile Phones into the Smart Era.

In 2017, the release of the Kirin 970 pioneered on-device AI, opening our eyes to the potential of on-device AI and kicking the year of smart phones. Now, the Kirin 980 will lead the industry again, bringing a more powerful and smarter on-device AI application experience.

With dual NPUs and the strongest computing power on the market, the Kirin 980 supports AI facial recognition, object recognition, object detection, image segmentation, intelligent translation, and more on mobile phones. It has higher-precision deep neural networks, and provides better real-time performance to give users the ultimate experience. The Kirin 980 can recognize 4500 images per minute, giving it a recognition speed 120% higher than the Kirin 970 and many more times higher than last year's the industry average. With a real-time frame rate for multi-person poses estimated to be up to 30 fps, whether you are trying to capture a rhythmic dance or fast runner, the Kirin 980 can draw the joints and lines of the human body in real time. This powerful object detection capability can accurately identify multiple objects, and can be used for real-time object tracking. Compared with the first AI-enabled Kirin 970 mobile chipset, the Kirin 980 represents a giant leap from image recognition to object detection.

The Kirin 980 supports mainstream frameworks such as Caffe, TensorFlow, and TensorFlow Lite. It has a strong, industry-leading deep learning framework compatibility and provides a series of complete toolchains, such as offline compilation, online compilation, and 8-bit quantization. This greatly reduces the engineering difficulty of on-device model deployment and leverages the industry's strongest computing power using the differentiated advantages of NPUs. In addition, it supports heterogeneous CPU, GPU, NPU, and DSP computing, facilitating automatic and flexible scheduling of deep learning algorithms.

With this powerful mobile AI computing, perfect framework support, and abundant toolchains, the Kirin 980 gives AI application developers more room to explore and innovate. More novel and powerful AI applications are now possible.

Fastest 1.4 Gbit/s Peak Download Rate in the Industry and Best Communication Experience for All Scenarios.

As mobile phone users spend more of their lives on mobile apps, entertainment applications such as games and video, and other lifestyle applications such as payment, navigation, and search are increasingly dependent on mobile phone capabilities. Smooth user experiences are therefore obviously dependent on a fast and stable network. The Kirin 980 mobile SoC chipset enhances 4G-based user experience and greatly upgrades basic communication experiences.

The Kirin 980 is the first chipset to support LTE Cat.21 in the world. It supports the industry's fastest downstream rate at 1.4 Gbit/s and accommodates the frequency band combinations of different operators around the world more flexibly. This ultimately gives users better high-speed experiences regardless of their operators' networks.

Real-time online applications, especially heavy-load online games which are dependent on network signal strength, have been a real focus of the Kirin chipset team. They have deeply explored how to provide stable and smooth gaming experiences in all scenarios, such as high-speed railways, subways, highways, and dense business districts. They employed more than 100 heavy gamers to test the chipset for more than 30,000 hours in 50 key cities around the world, locating the exact problems gamers face in terms of mobile communications. The Kirin 980 was then optimized to effectively reduce the lag and freezes, guaranteeing more stable gaming across all mobile networks.

In addition, the Kirin 980 has been paired with Hi1103, the world's fastest mobile phone Wi-Fi chipset, to support 160 MHz bandwidth. The theoretical peak download rate of this partnership is 1.7 Gbit/s, 1.7 times last year's industry average, bringing users a fast Wi-Fi connection experience. In public spaces, homes, and enterprise scenarios, mobile users can enjoy the fastest Wi-Fi access available.

Furthermore, Hi1103 supports the industry-leading L1+L5 dual-frequency GPS ultra-precise positioning. The L5 frequency band, increases positioning accuracy by 10 times, effectively increasing mobile phone positioning accuracy and enabling users to use navigation applications in urban canyons and elevated roads.

HiAI 2.0 for Developers and Partners Promoting a More Open AI Future.

Cooperation and openness have always been at the core of Huawei's development of on-device AI. In 2017, Huawei launched the HiAI mobile open platform, and made it open to global developers and partners. Since then, Huawei has worked with people across the industry to get the world's first batch of AI applications launched, ushering us into a new AI application era. After a breakthrough in on-device AI performance, Huawei is now officially launching the HiAI ecosystem 2.0, bringing the world even stronger AI computing power and providing more interfaces, operators, and easy-to-use SDKs to developers. This will greatly shorten AI application development cycles and improve development and integration efficiency. With the Kirin 980's intelligence, developers and partners will find application development more convenient. The more powerful AI computing environment will unlock the exponential potential for AI applications and help us all work together to create a brighter future.

The Huawei Mate series flagship mobile phones to be released in October are expected equipped with the Kirin 980, giving consumers even more robust performance and smarter experiences.