Huawei’s SoC-making arm: HiSilicon has announced the Kirin 990 that is the first flagship processor in the world with an integrated 5G modem. The Kirin 990 is the successor to the flagship Kirin 980 SoC that was found in Huawei flagships like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and the Huawei P30 Pro.
The processor is based on a 7nm manufacturing process and keeps the 2+2+4 cluster design that was introduced with the Kirin 980. The “big” cluster houses two Arm Cortex A-76 CPUs with a clock speed of up to 2.86 GHz. The “middle” cluster also features two A-76 cores which are clocked ay 2.36 GHz. The “small” cluster comprises of four low-power Cortex A-55 Cores that offer high energy efficiency.
In terms of GPU, the Kirin 990 now employs 16 Mali-G76 cores compared to the 10 cores present on the 980. According to Huawei, this beats Snapdragon 855’s Adreno 640 GPU by 20% in energy efficiency and 6% in performance.
The 990’s neural processing units (NPU) also get a boost for AI-based tasks like face unlock and voice recognition. The new SoC now supports a big dual-core NPU and a tiny core for low-power applications.
Coming to the most headlining feature of the new Kirin 990 5G is the integrated 5G modem that not only takes 36% less space than a Snapdragon 855 and X50 combo or an Exynos 9825 and 5100 Modem but is also more power-efficient. The modem supports download speeds of up to 2.3 Gbps and a maximum upload speed of 1.25 Gbps. Important to note is that the 990 doesn’t support mmWave 5G that is mainly used in the U.S. as Huawei doesn’t sell its devices there.
There’s also a 4G variant of the Kirin 990 that offers download speeds of up to 1.6 Gbps. This SoC will likely be used in Huawei devices in markets where 5G isn’t expected to go mainstream in the near future.
The Kirin 990 will power the Huawei Mate 30 series that is set to be unveiled on September 19th in Munich.