IFA 2019: Huawei announces the Kirin 990 5G SoC with Qualcomm in its crosshairs

Huawei claims that the Kirin 990 5G is currently the most powerful processor on the market


Huawei's future has been shrouded in mystery ever since the US announced a ban on the Chinese electronics giant. One of the main drawbacks of this blacklist was the fact that Huawei couldn't continue to doing business with major tech companies such as Google and ARM which in turn means that Huawei is denied both the Android license and also the technology to make its in-house Kirin chipsets. While the company has an extended 90-day reprieve till mid-November, Huawei has said that it is business as usual at IFA 2019 by unveiling its next-gen flagship chipset – Kirin 990 5G.

IFA 2019: Huawei announces the Kirin 990 5G SoC with Qualcomm in its crosshairs

A Huawei company logo is seen at the Shenzhen International Airport. Image: Reuters

Huawei claims that the Kirin 990 5G is currently the most powerful processor in the market along with the fact that it is the best-in-class with respect to power efficiency. The chipset is made from a 7 nm manufacturing process and boasts of nearly 10.3 billion transistors which is much more than the 6.9 billion on the Kirin 980.

The chipset has a refreshed CPU architecture with two Cortex-A76 high-performance cores, two Cortex-A76 “middle-cores” that juggle everyday workload and four Cortex-A55 efficiency cores for lighter tasks. The clock speeds of each core have been increased with the high-performance cores hitting 2.86 GHz, middle-cores hitting 2.36 GHz and the efficiency cores hitting 1.95 GHz.

When compared to the Snapdragon 855, Huawei claims that the Kirin 990 5G offers a 10 percent and 9 percent single-core and multi-core performance advantage, respectively.

The graphics on the 990 5G are handled by the Mali-G76 GPU which has been optimised to pack six more cores than the one on the Kirin 980. This has enabled the new GPU to leapfrog the Adreno 640 seen on the Snapdragon 855 by 6 percent in terms of overall performance and 20 percent in terms of power efficiency, claims Huawei.

The Kirin 990 5G features an improved dual-image signal processor (DISP) for better photo-taking capabilities than on the Kirin 980. Huawei has said that the new DISP can reduce noise in still images and videos by up to 30 percent and up to 20 percent.

In terms of AI, the Kirin 990 5G features an improved Neural Processing Unit (NPU) and is supposedly up to 4.76 times faster than the Kirin 980 on the ETH AI benchmark.

Talking now about 5G, the Kirin 990 will be the first all-in-one, full-frequency 5G chipset to hit the markets. The company claims that Kirin 990 5G’s machine learning-based adaptive receiver and split uplink design will help boost 5G speeds in places of "high-movement" and weak signal-strength areas such as cars, trains and more. In theory, the Kirin 990 5G is capable of delivering 2.3 Gbps download speeds and 1.25 Gbps upload speeds.

The Kirin 990 5G will first feature in the upcoming Mate 30-series smartphones and will subsequently be deployed on upcoming Honor flagships as well.