Over the last few years, companies like Qualcomm and Apple have regularly led the transition to new process nodes. This year, that flag may go to Huawei, if the company’s recent press statements are accurate. That’s not normally a reference one would write, but Huawei’s description of its own launch is rather unique.
According to Gearburn, which received a memo from the company, Huawei writes: “Rumors say that the Kirin 980 will feature an octa-core CPU comprising four A76 cores and four A55 cores, with the larger cores running as fast as at 2.8GHz.”
Most companies don’t release rumor statements in their own press releases, but presumably, this is a bit of cultural difference. The overall stats for the device are impressive if true, though phones can’t maintain high turbo modes for any significant length of time in most cases.
The Kirin 980 will launch in October, with significant performance uplifts over its predecessor, the Kirin 970. Huawei claims that the shift to 7nm will improve performance by 20 percent while decreasing overall power consumption by 40 percent. This is best understood as an either/or phenomenon, by which we mean you’ll get 20 percent performance uplift in some places and 40 percent better power consumption in others, but you’re not going to see those kinds of shifts at the same time in overall performance or battery life.
Huawei also claims the chip will include an updated and improved version of its NPU: “As to the NPU, murmurs in the market indicate that the Kirin 980 will also feature a new iteration of the AI processor that feature improved AI performance.” In the Kirin 970, Huawei talked up the use of the NPU to adjust camera settings based on lighting and other scene factors, along with showing benchmark data showing how the solution dramatically outperformed other hardware, including Qualcomm’s DSP on the Snapdragon 835.
It’ll be interesting to see if Huawei can beat companies like Apple and Qualcomm to market on 7nm, and to see how its improvements from the node stack up against companies like Qualcomm. Huawei’s move to challenge more established market leaders on moving to new process nodes is also a sign of the company’s own maturity and intent to challenge companies like Samsung.
Of course, all of these improvements and enhancements take place in a market in which it’s relatively difficult to buy Huawei phones. You can buy unlocked devices in the United States, but the US government has warned against using these devices and has banned them for use by government officials.
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