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HiSilicon Kirin 990: Huawei integrates 5G into the SoC of the Mate 30 Pro

HiSilicon Kirin 990: Huawei integriert 5G in das SoC des Mate 30 Pro

Huawei's chipmaker HiSilicon presented the SoC of the Mate 30 Pro at the IFA. The Kirin 990 comes in two variants: with and without 5G. The 5G modem no longer has to be installed as an additional chip. This saves space and potentially reduces energy consumption. HiSilicon also offers its own Kirin A1 Bluetooth chip.

First the system-on-a-chip, then the smartphone. In Berlin, Huawei and HiSilicon have introduced the Kirin 990 as the successor to the Kirin 980. For the first time, two versions of a new chip are available: with the support of the new 5G wireless standard and without 5G and with somewhat weaker benchmarks in terms of CPU and Neural Processing Unit (NPU). On September 19, the matching smartphone will follow in Munich: the Huawei Mate 30 Pro.

5G modem provides 10.3 billion transistors

The 5G version of the Kirin 990 features a multi-mode modem that supports all current wireless standards from the new 5G via LTE and 3G down to 2G. The smaller model of the Kirin 990 is already at LTE conclusion. Integrating the modem directly into the SoC is important in that this step can make the design of the motherboard in the smartphone more compact. So Huawei has more space, for example, for a larger battery or other components. In addition, the energy requirement of a single chip, despite the complex 5G modem is lower than when using two chips. With the combination of Kirin 980 and Balong 5000 the LTE modem of the SoC was also broke. This is also the case with the Exynos 9820 and 9825 with Exynos 5100 modem, only Qualcomm provides the Snapdragon 855 with the Snapdragon X50 with a pure, albeit older, modem exclusively for 5G.

Kirin 990 on Huawei P30 Pro
Kirin 990 on Huawei P30 Pro

The number of transistors has risen massively due to the integration of the modem. Huawei calls 10.3 billion transistors. By comparison, the Kirin 980 had 6.9 billion transistors, the Snapdragon 8cx, which is similar to the Snapdragon 855, 8.5 billion transistors, and the Apple A12 Bionic 6.9 billion transistors. So far, Huawei has not commented on the die or package size, but the Kirin 990 with 5G support is said to be smaller than the common area of ​​the Snapdragon 855 and Snapdragon X50 or Exynos 9825 and Exynos 5100.

7nm FinFET + with EUV from TSMC

The fact that Huawei's combination of Application Processor (AP) and multi-mode modem, even without a size specification, has apparently been comparatively compact, is partly down to the chosen manufacturing process. As a partner comes again to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which runs the Kirin 990 in 7 nm FinFET + including EUV from the tape. Samsung uses a similar proprietary process for the Exhnos 9825 Galaxy Note 10. An exclusive feature of the Kirin 990 is not this type of production thus, it comes Huawei given the complexity of the chip but located. Apple should be after HiSilicon the second customer for 7 nm FinFET +.

HiSilicon dispenses with 5G mmWave

In terms of size, Huawei benefits from the fact that all features related to WLAN, Bluetooth and global navigation satellite systems are outsourced to an external chip, while Qualcomm and Samsung offer these features via the SoC. In addition, Huawei in Kirin 990 does not offer the full range of 5G features of the introduced in January 5G-modem Balong 5000. 5G is only supported in the sub-6 GHz range, but not via mmWave. This reduces the complexity of the modem, but also means that markets such as the US are neglected, although this does not play a major role anyway in the current trade dispute. Instead, the focus is on the Chinese home market and Europe. In Europe, too, mmWave will find its way into inner cities in the coming years. Customers who buy a new top smartphone with 5G support for a multi-year usage may be missing a feature in the Mate 30 Pro.

According to Huawei, the integrated 5G modem is not quite as powerful as the stand-alone Balong 5000. Carrier aggregation over 5G does not exist anymore, according to the top speeds mentioned. In the downlink over 5G in the sub-6 GHz range up to 2.3 Gbit / s at a frequency block of 100 MHz are possible, for the uplink are also called 100 MHz spectrum 1.25 Gbit / s. The Balong 5000 was still two carriers with a total of 200 MHz and down and uplink data rates of 4.6 Gbps or 2.5 Gb / s the speech. About the combination of 5G and LTE 2.9 Gbit / s are possible in the downlink in the top. In areas with weak reception LTE should also be able to support the 5G signal in the uplink.

Kirin 990
Kirin 990

New NPU has up to three cores

For AI calculations such as in the fields of photo and video, a new NPU is available to relieve CPU and GPU, this time using the server segment of HiSilicon used Da Vinci architecture, which in the AI ​​accelerators of Ascend series can be found. Here are unspecified ARM cores are used, more precisely, two large (Big) and a small (Tiny) core, which must be distinguished in this point between the Kirin 990 with 5G and the variant without 5G. In the LTE model, the NPU only has one big and one small core. For the full expansion Huawei calls a 2.53 times higher performance than for the dual NPU of the Kirin 980 and the 4.76-fache achievement compared to the Kirin 970. Apple and Qualcomm wants to beat Huawei measured with the ETH AI Benchmark 3.0 ,

On the next page: Octa-core CPU with known ARM cores

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