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HiSilicon Kirin 990 5G vs Kirn 980 vs Snapdragon 855 vs Exynos 9820

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?

While the SD855+ and Exynos 9825 are technically newer chipsets, the SD855 is just a clock bump and the Exynos 9825 is only on one phone.

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.

Fabrication Process

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.

CPU Layout

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

GPU

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.

5G Capabilities

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.

AI

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.

Challenges

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)
@ 2.42GHz 3x256KB

4x Kryo 485 Silver (A55)
@ 1.80GHz 4x128KB

2x Custom CPU
2x Cortex-A75
4x Cortex-A55
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
LPDDR4x
34.1GB/s
LPDDR4x
ISP ISP 5.0 Dual ISP Dual 14-bit Spectra 380 ISP
1x 48MP or 2x 22 MP
Dual ISP
Video Playback & Codecs 4K @ 30fps – capture
4K @ 60fps playback
4K @ 30fps – capture
4K @ 60fps playback
2160p60 10-bit H.265
HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
720p480
2160p60 HEVC & H.264 Decode
2160p30 Encode
HDR10
Modem 5G 2.3Gbps LTE Cat 21
1.4Gbps down / 200Mbps up
Snapdragon X24 LTE
(Category 20)
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)

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Maikel Du

I worked in many technical fields, but I always resort to blogging which has become an addiction to me
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