This post is being updated live at the event, so please keep checking on it or further details.
With the launch of the new HiSilicon Kirin 990 the ball is rolling for all the new phones of 2020. This gives a glimpse of what to expect for the year to come. Qualcomm will announce their new chipset in December, which will likely offer similar performance and features, this will then be followed by Samsung and their new Exynos chipset, probably in January/February for MWC.
So for now, the HiSilicon Kirin 990 is king of the hill, so how does it compare to the existing flagship chipsets on the market?
The below comparison is based on the Kirin 990 5G, it was quietly announced towards the end keynote that there is a none 5G Kirin 990.
The Kirin 990 uses the 7nm EUV (Extreme ultraviolet lithography) fabrication process, this is not the first chipset to use it, the recently launched Exynos 9825 is manufactured this way. When the 9825 launched it promised up to 20-30 percent higher transistor performance while consuming 30-50 percent less power.
The Kirin 990 (5G) uses the same architecture as the Kirin 980, but with higher clocks.
The Kirin now uses:
- 2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz
- 2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz
- 4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz
The Kirin 980 had
- 2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.6GHz
- 2x Cortex-A76 @ 1.92GHz
- 4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8GHz
But then they announced the Kirin 990 without 5G
The GPU remains the same technology, the Mali-G76 but this has now been upgraded to 16-cores compared to 10-cores of the previous generation.
The Kirin 980 had no native 5G capabilities, this was added via the Balong 5000 modem, similar to how the Snapdragon 855 also requires a X50 modem.
The Kirin 990 is the first native 5G chipset with the modem built into the chip. This is quite important because if you look at the Mate 20X vs the Mate 20X 5G, they had to drop the battery size ad change the speaker layout just to fit in a 5G modem.
There will also be a none 5G version (which he sneakily announced towards the end).
Imaging and Video
A 5th generation ISP with claims of professional DSLR level image noise reduction.
With the 5G integration, Huawei are now claiming the chipset will do on-device AI processing, but then real-time cloud AI processing.
Huawei claims this will allow them to achieve 3 times the Ai performance compared to the Exynos 9820.
Charging, Wi-Fi and more
The SD855 was the first to support Wi-Fi 6 but is only being used in the Samsung S10. The Kirin 990 should support this natively offering speeds up to.
The chipset will support both UFS 2.1 and 3.0, with the storage used being device-dependent. I would expect all Huawei flagship devices will now use UFS 3.0.
How good this chipset performs is almost moot at the moment, we all know it will be fantastic, and it will be the best chipset until the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 launches.
The biggest issue Huawei and HiSilicon face is the political landscape, with continued problems from the US, which at the moment means the new Mate 30 can’t launch with Google Apps.
How well this chipset performs matters less than how Huawei can either resolve or work around this issue.
Huawei appears to be ploughing forward like there are no issues, the Mate 30 is scheduled for launch on September the 19th, it could be they have an adequate solution for the problems faced, who knows.
Kirin 990 vs Kirn 980 vs Snapdragon 855 vs Exynos 9820 Specification Comparison
|HiSilicon Kirin 990||HiSilicon Kirin 980||Snapdragon 855||Exynos 9820|
|Process||7nm EUV||7nm||7nm (N7)||8 nm LPP (Low Power Plus) FinFET|
|CPU Cores||Octa-Core, 64-bit||Octa-Core, 64-bit||Octa-Core, 64-bit||Octa-Core, 64-bit|
|CPU||2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.86GHz
2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.95GHz
(4MB shared L3 cache)
|2x Cortex-A76 @ 2.6GHz
2x Cortex-A76 @ 1.92GHz
4x Cortex-A55 @ 1.8GHz
(4MB shared L3 cache)
|1x Kryo 485 Gold (A76)
@ 2.84GHz 1x512KB
3x Kryo 485 Gold (A76)
4x Kryo 485 Silver (A55)
|2x Custom CPU
|GPU||Mali-G76 MP16||Mali-G76 MP10||Adreno 640 @ 585MHz||ARM Mali G76 MP12|
|NPU||2+1 NPU with real time cloud AI||Dual NPU||Yes (Hexagon 690 DSP)||Yes|
|RAM||LPDDR4X @ 2133MHz||LPDDR4X @ 2133MHz||4x 16-bit CH @ 2133 MHz
|ISP||ISP 5.0||Dual ISP||Dual 14-bit Spectra 380 ISP
1x 48MP or 2x 22 MP
|Video Playback & Codecs||4K @ 30fps – capture
4K @ 60fps playback
|4K @ 30fps – capture
4K @ 60fps playback
|2160p60 10-bit H.265
HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
|2160p60 HEVC & H.264 Decode
|Modem||5G 2.3Gbps||LTE Cat 21
1.4Gbps down / 200Mbps up
|Snapdragon X24 LTE
DL = 2000Mbps
7x20MHz CA, 256-QAM, 4×4
UL = 316Mbps
3x20MHz CA, 256-QAM
|LTE-A Cat.20 8CA (2Gbps download)
Cat.20 3CA (316Mbps upload)
|Wi-Fi||Hi1103 WiFi chip supports 1732Mbps with Wi-Fi and, Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi ac/b/g/n with MU-MIMO||Hi1103 WiFi chip supports 1732Mbps with Wi-Fi and, Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi ac/b/g/n with MU-MIMO||Support for WiFi 6 standard (802.11ax) as well as the new 60GHz “Wi-Gig” 802.11ay, enabled by an external WiFi combo chipset.||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac|
|Charging||SuperCharge 4.5V / 5A low-voltage fast charging||SuperCharge 4.5V / 5A low-voltage fast charging||Quick Charge 4+ (USB PD Compatible)||Samsung Adaptive Fast Charge, Fast Wireless Charging (Qi & PMA)|