Around eight years ago, back when I was still in high school, I remember being unwilling to trade in my old analog phone for a touchscreen one. I’ve memorized the key presses required for each letter and was very good at texting without even looking at the screen or the keyboard so the idea of something that I now couldn’t hide and text within my skirt pocket was something that I found simply ridiculous (now I can just talk to my phone and ask it to text for me). Back then, the screen simply being touch capacitive were already the craze of the town, we didn’t ask if it could handle demanding games (because they didn’t exist yet) or double as a camera.

Fast forward to today, technology has grown by exponentially (and continues to do so) and I’m here to tell you all about the amazing things that Huawei’s upcoming smartphones (yes, I’ve caved a long time ago) can now do with its most powerful and intelligent chipset to date—the Kirin 990.  I got a first-hand look at the tech and all I can say is that it’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come next.

Making its debut on the Mate 30 series, the Kirin 990 is built with a 7nm + EUV manufacturing process that boasts of competitive performance, energy efficiency, and transistor density. With 10.3 billion transistors integrated in a small area just the size of a fingernail, the chipset is one of the most complex 5G SoC with most transistors and one with the most complete functions.

Flagship 5G

The world’s first Flagship 5G SoC powered with 7nm+ EUV3, the Kirin 990 on the Mate 30 is said have the best performing 5G connection in the industry as it combines both the processor and 5G baseband into one. This technology increases chip integration while at the same time reduces the power consumed by the device. In the future of 5G, be able to download large files in just a few seconds and game with ultra-low latency.  

It also supports 2G/3G/4G/5G networks, NSA + SA networking modes, 5G+4G dual card dual standby, as well as FDD+TDD full frequency bands.

World’s first 16-core GPU

The Kirin 990 features a three-level power efficiency architecture for CPU, comprising of two supersized cores (customized on Cortex-A76), two big cores (customized on Cortex-A76), and four micro cores (Cortex-A55), which provides a main frequency up to 2.86GHz. It also integrates a 16-core Mali-G76 GPU cluster, making it the best Huawei smartphone chipset (to date) with the biggest GPU. Featuring a system-level Smart Cache that supports intelligent distribution for DDR data and Kirin Gaming+ 2.0, it delivers a viewing and gaming experience like no other.

Smarter AI

Changing the game of smartphone photography, Huawei’s Kirin 990 chipset implements dual-domain noise reduction. Normally, most AI focus on temporal noise reduction but the Kirin 990 deals with both temporal and spatial noise that is found in low light conditions: temporal noise is generated when two consecutive frames in playback change with time while spatial noise is inherent noise that orignally exists in each frame.  

It also improves video quality by focusing on precise noise separation and delivers sharper video images even shoot in low light scenes. Additionally, the real-time video post-processing and rendering technology based on AI segmentation tunes images colors delicately, offering cinema-grade viewing experiences.

But the AI tech of the Kirin 990 goes beyond that, NPU-based neural network algorithms allows for Face AR (augmented reality). It can do face modeling, real-time tracking, and facial expression capturing. Another thing that proves its power is its health app, which can now track one’s heart and respiratory rate just by looking at your face! It analyzes the subtle shifts in color (which mean that blood is pumping to your face) and movement to return the heart and respiratory rate of the user. I got to try this out first hand against a traditional heart rate monitor and it came out very accurate.

Big Tiny Core Architecture NPU

Lastly, the Kirin 990 is the first flagship chip using Huawei’s self-developed Da Vinci NPU architecture, an innovative computing architecture of dual big NPU cores and micro NPU cores.

AI Benchmarking

Utilizing the dual large NPUs which deliver excellent performance and efficiency for applications that require heavy loaded computing and continuously taking on-device Artificial Intelligence (AI) computing capability to a higher level. Meanwhile, the micro NPU cores enable ultra-low power applications.

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