Source: Huawei

HiSilicon, the semiconductor arm of Huawei, has officially announced the world’s first flagship SoC with built-in 5G prowess – Kirin 990 5G. Huawei took the veil off the successor to Kirin 980 chipset today at IFA 2019 event in Berlin. By the way, there is a 4G variant without this integration and the 5G suffix in its name.

Regardless, 5G variant is the showstopper of the duo, boasting download speeds of up to 2.3Gbps and upload speeds of 1.25Gbps. It incorporates the first full-band frequency Balong 5G modem, unlike Kirin 980 which had the Balong 5000 modem as a discrete component.

Interestingly, the Chinese tech titan has already confirmed that the Mate 30 Pro will ship with Kirin 990. The Mate 30 series is scheduled for a September 19 launch. Huawei says the presence of Kirin 990 5G edition within the upcoming phones is subject to 5G reach in a particular market.

Here are the specs for starters –

Huawei Kirin 990 5G vs Kirin 990 vs Kirin 980

Models Krin 990 5G Kirin 990 4G Kirin 980
CPU 2x Cortex A76 @2.86G

2x Cortex A76 @2.36G

4x Cortex A55 @1.95G

2x Cortex A76 @2.86G

2x Cortex A76 @2.09G

4x Cortex A55 @1.86G

4x Cortex A76 @2.60G

4x Cortex A55 @1.80G

GPU 16xG76 @700M 16xG76 @700M 10xG76 @750M
NPU 2 + 1 Da Vinci 1 + 1 Da Vinci 2 Cambricon
Modem Balong 5G 4G 4G
DRAM LPDDR4-4266 LPDDR4-4266 LPDDR4-4266
Die Size >100 mm2 ~90 mm2 74.13 mm2
Transistor 10.3b ~8.0b 6.9b


Kirin 990 5G highlights

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Technologies Consumer Business Group unveiling Kirin 990

True to its moniker, Sub-6 GHz 5G is deeply woven into both SA and NSA architectures. It is engineered using EUV on TSMC’s latest 7+ manufacturing process. This facilitates a smaller die size, which is still larger than the 4G chip and Kirin 980.

It leads in terms of the Transistor count at around 10.3 billion, followed by the 990 4G’s 8 billion and 6.9 billion value of Kirin 980.

Coming to the CPU configuration, there are two high-frequency A76 cores, accompanied with two medium frequency A76 cores, and four A55 efficiency cores. They differ from each other in terms of clock speed and power. But between them and the predecessor, a big shuffle has happened in the core structure itself.

Cortex A76 cores are backed by 512 kB L2 cache and 128 kB cache in case of the Cortex A55. Huawei claims to have tweaked the core architecture for better memory latency to CPU, GPU, and NPU. This feature is christened as ‘SmartCache’.

Next up in the graphics department, we see a bump in a 16-core Mali-G76 from a 10-core Mali-G76 in the Kirin 980. Huawei reveals this has a 6-percent performance peak and 20-percent power-efficiency.

And while we underline 5G capability, AI is also allegedly better in this new chipset. Huawei has replaced Cambricon NPU hardware design with its proprietary Da Vinci architecture. if you’d recall, the Kirin 810, unveiled earlier this year also helmed the same Da Vinci design.

Although the chip is adept in handling both 4G and 5G network, a non-5G chip is highly likely, in dint of a distant 5G mainstream adoption in Huawei’s markets. This also means the 5G Huawei phones will probably wield better hardware.


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