high-end processor brings 5G and AI

The lightweight redesign of the P30 Pro is not the only novelty Huawei at IFA 2019. The company took advantage of the event to officially announce the processorKirin 990. It comes to equip top-of-the-line smartphones, but instead of its great processing capacity, what Huawei most stands out about it is its 5G modem.

Huawei Kirin 990 5G

In fact, the Kirin 990 comes in two versions. One “normal” (with 4G), another with that 5G modem. But when it comes to processing, both are almost the same. The manufacturing technology of the two chips is TSMC’s 7 nanometer, for example. 10.3 billion transistors have been inserted here.

The Kirin 990 is an octa-core processor. It consists of high, medium and low frequency cores:

  • Kirin 990: two 2.86 GHz Cortex-A76, two 2.36 GHz Cortex-A76, four 1.95 GHz Cortex-A55
  • Kirin 990 5G: two 2.86 GHz Cortex-A76, two 2.09 GHz Cortex-A76, four 1.86 GHz Cortex-A55

Both also feature 16-core Mali G76 GPUs. In addition to great graphics capacity for games, this GPU reduces the bandwidth needed to communicate with RAM memory by 15%, without loss of performance.

But it is the aspect of 5G that draws the most attention. Huawei points out that the Kirin 990 incorporates the 5G modem on the same die as the CPU itself. Thanks to this, the chip can be 36% smaller than if the two components were kept separate.

In addition to gaining physical space, this approach brings some relief in power consumption by not requiring the 5G modem to have a dedicated DRAM memory to function. Here, the possible performance is up to 2.3 Gb / s in the download and 1.25 Gb / s in the upload.

Kirin 990: a double (or triple) NPU

Huawei wouldn’t set aside the artificial intelligence issue, right? Right: another major highlight of the Kirin 990 is the presence of the NPU (neural processing unit) of Da Vinci architecture.

This architecture has the mission of optimizing both the use of the CPU and the GPU in the most diverse applications, such as games and photography, so that the smartphone can deliver all the necessary performance without consuming too much energy.

To this end, the Kirin 990 NPU has been divided into two components: a large core handles the most complex tasks; another, smaller core takes care of the simpler operations and therefore requires little energy.

Kirin 990 NPU

An interesting detail is that, in the Kirin 990 5G, the NPU consists of a small core and two large ones, while the 4G version of the processor remains with only one core of each type. Presumably, the additional core should help reduce latency for 5G-based applications, among other advantages.

Other features applicable to the two versions of the Kirin 990 include support for LPDDR4X memories and the UFS 3.0 data storage standard, in addition to an image signal processor (ISP) that should help reduce noise by up to 30% in the pictures.

The Kirin 990 may appear soon: most likely, the processor will equip the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, which is scheduled to launch on September 19.

With information: AnandTech.

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