Huawei Unveils Kirin 970 AI Processor With 8-Core CPU And 12-Core GPU That Could Best Even Apple A11 Or Snapdragon 835

Chinese phone and chip designer Huawei unveiled its first artificial intelligence (AI) smartphone chipset, the Kirin 970. By combining the power of the cloud with the speed and responsiveness of the processor's native AI capabilities, Huawei claims it can give the competition a run for their money, including top-shelf mobile chipsets such as Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835, Apple's custom A11 SoC that will power upcoming iPhone 8 devices, and Samsung's Exynos family.

Kirin 970

"The Kirin 970 is faster, better and more secure than anything else available [in the market]. This is the latest technology and it is the first chip to have a neural processing unit inside, which is 20 times faster than a central processing unit," said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business group, at IFA in Berlin, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

"It is a major breakthrough for Huawei. We will enable the first use of AI technology in mobile apps, and provide consumers with a never-before-seen AI experience right in the palm of their hands," Yu added.

The Kirin 970 is a mighty slice of silicon built using an advanced 10-nanometer manufacturing process. It packs a whopping 5.5 billion transistors into a area measuring just a single centimeter squared (1 cm2). The chipset boasts an 8-core CPU and a 12-core GPU, and has a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU).
Next to ARM's quad-core Cortex-A73 GPU cluster, Huawei claims its Kirin 970 delivers up to 25x better performance with 50x greater efficiency. Or put another way, Huawei says its Kirin 970 can perform the same AI computing tasks as the competition, but faster and with far less power.

"As we look to the future of smartphones, we’re at the threshold of an exciting new era," Yu said. "Mobile AI = On-Device AI + Cloud AI. Huawei is committed to developing smart devices into intelligent devices by building end-to-end capabilities that support coordinated development of chips, devices, and the cloud. The ultimate goal is to provide a significantly better user experience. The Kirin 970 is the first in a series of new advances that will bring powerful AI features to our devices and take them beyond the competition."
AI is fast becoming a major point of focus in the mobile world, enabled by increasingly powerful and efficient hardware. Leveraging AI capabilities opens up a world of opportunities. Digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Now, Cortana, and Bixby have served as representatives of AI at the consumer level, though the surface has begun to be scratched at this early stage.

The Kirin 970 is making its debut in Huawei's new Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro handsets, a pair of flagships set to launch on October 16 in Munich.