Chinese tech giant Huawei on Friday unveiled the world’s first commercial 7nm (nanometre) system-on-chip (SoC), the HiSilicon Kirin 980, equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities.
Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu announced the SoC, based on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer Company’s (TSMC) 7nm process, in his keynote address on the opening day of the IFA 2018 in Berlin.
Compared to the previous generation 10nm process, the 7nm process delivers 20 percent improved SoC performance and 40 percent more efficiency, said Huawei which surpassed Apple to become the second-largest global smartphone seller behind Samsung in the second quarter of this year.
“Last year, we showed the world the potential of on-device AI with the Kirin 970 and this year, we’ve designed an all-round powerhouse that not only features outstanding AI capabilities, but also brings cutting-edge raw performance to consumers,” Yu told the gathering, adding that the new SoC is equipped with dual NPU (Neural Processing Unit).
“The Kirin 980 is the ultimate engine to power the next-generation productivity and entertainment applications,” Yu added.
The TSMC 7nm process technology enables Kirin 980 to pack 6.9 billion transistors within a “1 square cm die size”, up by 1.6 times from the previous generation.
The Kirin 980 is also the first SoC to embed Cortex-A76 cores, which are 75 percent more powerful and 58 percent more efficient compared to the previous generation.
In an octa-core configuration, the CPU in Kirin 980 is comprised of two high-performance Cortex-A76 cores; two high-efficiency Cortex-A76 cores; and two extreme efficiency Cortex-A55 cores, the company said.
Running at higher clock speeds compared to the prior generation, Kirin 980 enables quicker app launch times, better multi-tasking and a generally smoother user experience, it added.
As graphics in mobile games have become more and more sophisticated in recent years, Huawei has integrated the Mali-G76 GPU (graphics processing unit) into the Kirin 980 to deliver improved gaming experiences.
Debuting with the Kirin 980 SoC, Mali-G76 offers 46 per cent greater graphics processing power at 178 per cent improved power efficiency over the previous generation, according to Huawei.
Mali-G76 utilises AI to intelligently identify gaming workloads and adjust resource allocation for optimal gaming performance.
Kirin 980 supports common AI frameworks such as Caffee, Tensorflow and Tensorflow Lite, and provides a suite of tools that simplifies the difficulty of engineering on-device AI, allowing developers to easily tap into the leading processing power of the dual NPU. Kirin 980 adopts a new pipeline dedicated to processing video captures, allowing the camera module to shoot videos with 33 percent shorter delay, Huawei informed.