Huawei’s Kirin 990 with built-in 5G to power Mate 30 series – Everything You Must Know

Huawei Kirin 990 5G Processor

We all knew for a few weeks that Huawei was all set up to launch its Kirin 990 processor ahead of the launch of its flagship Mate 30 series. The Chinese tech giant just did that at IFA 2019 — the Europe’s famous consumer electronic show.

A little history about Huawei informs us that how things usually flow within the company. Its flagship Kirin processor is announced just before its Mate 30 series which actually comes with the processor itself in following months. Then the processor ends up in other flagship phones from Huawei and Honor in the next year. This cycle has been running for quite a few years. Just like that the Kirin 990 will first appear in the company’s flagship Mate 30 which is set to launch on September 19th.

The tech is just going forward and the digital communication is on top of all. 5G, being the most important element of 2020, has just made the manufacturers consider one universal truth – do it or die. Only a couple of days ago, Samsung launched its first 5G-integrated mobile processor, Exynos 980. Qualcomm has also announced its mobile platform with 5G-integrated. Huawei now has its own Kirin 990 with, exactly what we are talking about, 5G-integrated.

You might wonder that we had seen those processors already with 5G modems; but those were only 5G-ready chipsets. Means, the chips would allow compatible 5G modems to be installed separately. For example Snapdragon 855 would allow company’s proprietary X50 5G modem, but instead it came with X24 4G/LTE modem. Just like how Kirin 980 was compatible with Balong 5000 5G modem.

However, this new stage of processors with built-in 5G radios is still of no use, until the 5G connectivity is offered widely by the mobile carriers. Adoption by the phone manufacturers is also key element which is quite expected in the year 2020.

Kirin 990 Architecture
Image source: Huawei

Kirin 990 5G Features and Specifications

The new Kirin 990 5G chip is based on 7nm manufacturing process. The chip contains an octa-core processor that has has 10.3 billion transistors. Based on what Huawei calls it — BigMiddleLittle, the processor consists two big, two middle and four little ARM cores to optimize multitasking.

  • Two high-performance Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.86GHz,
  • Two middle-performance Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.36GHz
  • Four power-efficient Cortex-A55 cores clocked at 1.95GHz

The Kirin 990 5G also packs with a 16-core Mali-G76 GPU which is supposed to offer a lot of power for mobile gaming.

Downlink and Uplink Speeds – Comparison

According to the company’s statements, the new 5G-based SoC can achieve up to 2.3 Gbps downlink and 1.25 Gbps uplink speeds.

If we put the numbers against rivals — Snapdragon X55 modem can achieve up to 7 Gbps downlink and 3 Gbps uplink. Exynos 980, on other hand, can deliver up to 2.55 Gbps downlink and 1.28 Gbps uplink.

Further, the Exynos 980 can go up to 3.55 Gbps downlink by combining the 2CC LTE and 5G connectivity.

Imaging and Photography

Kirin 990 5G also includes a 5th-gen image signal processor (ISP) that “enables new DSLR-level noise reduction technology”. And Huawei claims it’s the first on a smartphone.

Kirin 990 5G and Kirin 990 (4G)

While the whole focus of the company, during the keynote, was on the 5G, the company actually named the new chip as Kirin 990 5G. That also revealed that there is another chip without 5G — it’s just Kirin 990. The important thing is that it’s only the difference of 5G connectivity. Though the 4G based standard Kirin 990 has similar stack of cores, they are clocked little lower speeds.

Kirin 990 5G vs Kirin 990
Kirin 990 5G & Kirin 990 side by side specifications

Two high-performance cores, however, remains identical as well as the GPU. Then another difference comes with the NPU where 5G variant has dual-NPU while the 4G variants has single-NPU. “Kirin 990 5G’s neural processing units (NPU) can be used for tasks like face and voice recognition.”

The powerful Big-Core plus ultra-low consumption Tiny-Core contribute to an enormous boost in AI performance by 138%. in AI face recognition, the efficiency of NPU Tiny-Core can be enhanced up to 24x than the Big-Core. The Kirin 990 5G with dual NPU is ready to unlock the magic of the future.

Mate 30 to launch with Kirin 990

Mate 30 series to feature Kirin 990

The industry knew the fact quite well that the Kirin 990 will first power the company’s upcoming Mate 30 flagship series. The company has also officially disclosed that the Mate 30 series, which is set to launch on September 19th, will be powered by the new Kirin 990.

The company, however, has not suggested specifically — whether Kirin 990 5G or simply Kirin 990. We believe the 5G devices shipment will be slow as per the market demands. Considering the almost-non-existent 5G connectivity, the upcoming Mate 30 series will ship with the 4G based Kirin 990 in most regions globally. The Kirin 990 5G based Mate 30 or Mate 30 Pro may also ship in select regions as special editions.

Watch Huawei’s IFA 2019 Keynote

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