Huawei’s new mobile processor destroys the Snapdragon 845

Huawei recently revealed its latest smartphone system-on-a-chip (SoC), the HiSilicon Kirin 980.

The new chipset is the successor to the Chinese smartphone manufacturer’s Kirin 970 chipset, which was the first mobile chip to feature an on-device neural processing unit (NPU).

Huawei’s Kirin 970 is currently used across a number of its flagship devices, including the P20 and P20 Pro smartphones.

The company has stepped up the performance and efficiency for its newest chipset, largely thanks to its move to TSMC’s 7nm manufacturing process.

The Kirin 980 is the first mobile SoC built on the 7nm process node, cramming 6.9 billion transistors into a 1cm2 die.

Speaking at a media briefing in Sandton, Johannesburg, Huawei Consumer Business Group South Africa CTO Akhram Mohamed spoke about the new chip’s performance improvements.

Kirin 980 vs Snapdragon 845

Mohamed said that Huawei’s overhauled chipset architecture and improved manufacturing process deliver a substantial improvement in mobile performance compared to competing high-end SoCs.

“Over the past 36 months, we have been researching and working on designing a 7nm mobile chip,” Mohamed said.

“There is no doubt that this is the most intelligent and powerful smartphone chipset on the market.”

Internal benchmarking done by Huawei and early third-party benchmarks show the new chipset decimating competing hardware in mobile performance.

The Kirin 980’s CPU boasts 75% better performance and 58% higher power efficiency compared to the Kirin 970, Mohamed said.

Its CPU also delivers 37% more performance and 32% better power efficiency than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, according to benchmarks conducted by Huawei.

Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset also includes the new Mali-G76 GPU, delivering 22% better gaming performance and 32% higher power efficiency than the GPU in the Snapdragon 845.

This performance paired with GPU Turbo makes the Kirin 980 chipset a perfect piece of hardware for running demanding mobile games, he said.

Additionally, the Kirin 980 boasts advanced AI hardware features, allowing it to perform much better in intelligent tasks – such as image recognition.

While the Snapdragon 845 can recognise 2,731 images in a single minute, the Kirin 980 can process 4,500 images in the same amount of time.


Mohamed said Huawei has enhanced its SoC architecture for the Kirin 980 chip, adding a number of new hardware components which enable better efficiency and performance.

The central architecture for the Cortex-A76 CPU has changed to a “Big-Middle-Light” structure, comprising two high-speed 2.26GHz cores, two 1.92GHz “medium” cores, and four 1.8GHz cores.

These cores are activated depending on the required resources of the device at any given time, improving power efficiency and battery life by not tapping power-hungry CPU cores when only light tasks are being conducted.

Another major change is the inclusion of a Dual-NPU system, which allows for greatly-improved AI tasks such as object recognition, real-time video processing, and precise real-time object segmentation.

The two NPU cores have the potential to function in a threaded configuration performing parallel tasks, although this feature has not yet been enabled on the current hardware.

Mohamed stated that the Kirin 980 also features a new image signal processor (ISP), which delivers better image clarity and allows for higher-fidelity pictures than competing cameras.

For smartphone buyers looking for high mobile data speeds, the Kirin 980’s LTE modem supports carrier aggregation and LTE Cat.21 with a peak download speed of 1.4Gbps.

Mohamed told MyBroadband the Kirin 980 SoC would power its new Mate smartphone, and would be implemented in its next-generation P-series flagship devices.

Now read: Huawei launches Android 9.0 for its smartphones

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