What You Might Not Know About the Huawei Kirin 980 (Video)

Thanks to Huawei’s invite, I attended a closed session with the media on the features of the new Kirin 980. Many people are comparing Kirin 980 with Snapdragon 845. After seeing the specs and the live demo, I think I know who is the winner. Can’t wait to see the first handset to have the Kirin 980 – the Huawei Mate 20 Series.

This blog post will be a long, boring one. Skip it if you are not into chipset. I will be showing you the features and specs provided by Huawei. You will be the judge to compare it with any chipset in the market. Do let me know if you can find one competitor with such specs.

Thanks to Saiful, Product and Training Manager from Huawei Singapore, for the providing us with a better understanding of the Kirin 980 chipset. I learned a lot more about it today.

During the first introduction of Kirin 970 last year, it is the first in the market to have an NPU (Neural Processing Unit). Today, with Kirin 980, it becomes the 1st again to introduce two NPUs in one chipset. I will share with you what two NPUs can do later. Continue to read on.

Knowing Huawei, they did not stop here. Check out how many “first” they are introducing based on the Kirin 980. I am amazed.

BTW, if you think that Kirin 980 is something that Huawei wants to rush out to meet the market demand, you are wrong. They have been working on it for 3 years already.

So, let me go through in detail the features of this chipset.

World’s 1st 7nm Process

Compare it with 10nm process, you get 20% speed improvement and 40% power efficient improvement.

You might be interested in how many more transistors the chip can pack with the improvement in technology.

World’s 1st Cortex-A76 Based CPU

CPU performance comparison between Snapdragon 845 and Kirin 980.

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Next is the CPU architecture with Flex-Scheduling mechanism. We are familiar with 4 x 4 structure. In Kirin 980, it is using 2 x Turbo, 2 x Sustained and 4 x Power Efficiency structure.

What it does is that it will base on the application and uses the right CPU to do the job. Below is an example of flex-scheduling.

And here is a list of applications and the CPU that will perform the job. For heavy load gaming, all CPUs will be running at the same time.

World’s 1st SOC Supporting Speed Up to 2133 MHz LPDDR 4x

Here is something that might not impress you. However, every millisecond counts. Overall, user should feel that the phone is snappy.

World’s 1st Mali-G76 GPU

Mobile gamers MUST take note. With the latest GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and AI, Huawei is going to make heavy-load gaming a breeze (no lag).

Based on the picture below, the white line is the typical loading prediction. The yellow line is the improved prediction. During our Q&A, we understand that you might need to play the game a few times for it to understand (AI) the loading trend and to provide the optimum performance.

I am particularly impressed with the consistent FPS (Frame Per Second) when playing a heavy loading game. Check out the demo video at the end of this post.

Dual ISP (Image Signal Processor)

I love mobile photography. With the new Kirin 980, it has double the ISP and overall, it translates to a better photography experience.

These are examples of what a Dual ISP can do. Take note that these are taken under controlled environment. I will need to check it out if they really perform up to my expectation.

Dual NPU (Neural Processing Unit)

This is really something to look forward to – Dual NPU. Based on my understanding, NPU is largely focused on photography.

The next few slides are self-explanatory.

We have checked with Huawei. As this AI is built into the chip (hard-coded), it means that if it recognizes an object wrongly, there is no way to feedback the right information.

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The next few slides, in my opinion, might be a game changer in the photography/videography on mobile. With Dual NPU, it extends AI even further. Now, it can recognize more details and can even perform real-time image processing on video.

Check out this image on real-time multi person gesture recognition. Huawei did a demo on it. Impressive stuff. I have added a video at the end of this post of how it manages to track someone doinga really fast floss dance.

If you have managed to scroll until here, congratulation. There are a few more slides to go. They are all about connectivity – Mobile Data, WiFi, GPS.

In Singapore, you might not feel so much about the below-mentioned but in some countries, it could be really a pain.

World’s 1st 1.4 Gbps Cat.21 Smartphone Modem

I feel that user experience is very important. This includes the connection speed and etc. Huawei has nailed it on Kirin 980.

Instead of a single frequency GPS, Kirin 980 is utilizing two frequencies (L5 + L1). That can only mean one thing – more precise positioning. According to Huawei, it can now track which lane your car is in using the Dual-Frequency GPS.


Here is the fun part for those who are obsessed with specs.

Kirin 970 vs Kirin 980

Snapdragon 845 vs Kirin 980


And finally, here is the demonstration part. I hope you are still around to watch the short demo of the real-time gesture recognition and the consistent FPS during a heavy load gameplay.

For the demo, Huawei has mounted the Kirin 980 on a super big circuit board. Check them out.

Real Time Gesture Tracking

Rear view

Front View

Notice that it can track mulitiple subjects?

Consistent FPS

A real-time display of the FPS during a gameplay. From my observation, it is quite consistent at 57 fps to 60 FPS.

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Close-up of the display.

Here is the video.


This is a long post. I actually wanted to cut corners on NOT showing some of the slides. In the end, I added almost everything here. I think the effort from Huawei is commendable. Given the saturation in the mobile market, they are still innovating and squeezing the latest technology in their upcoming handset.

Here is a summary of the new features on the Kirin 980.

Regarding their recent trouble on the 3DMark benchmark, they will update the software to allow user to choose between performance or efficiency. I don’t think they are running away from it. From my understanding, they have started to work with UL (creator of 3DMark benchmark) and to “participate in an industry movement to develop benchmarking standards that best serve the needs of manufacturers, press, and consumers.” (Huawei Press Statement)

I may sound like a fan of Huawei but I am not. I am a fan of technology and any company that can impress me with their work, I will support them. I am impressed by Huawei’s determination and progress over these few short years.

Let me know what you think about the Kirin 980. I am so looking forward to the launch of Huawei Mate 20 Series and to get a hand on it (or them) for review.