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Huawei Launches the latest flagship Kirin 990 and its enhanced 5G version

[Berlin, Germany, September 6, 2019] Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Technologies Consumer Business Group, delivered a keynote speech entitled "Rethink Evolution" at the IFA, and unveiled the latest flagship Kirin 990 and its enhanced 5G version. As the first-ever 5G SoC, Kirin 990 (5G) enables end users to access superb 5G connectivity, before the comprehensive rollout and commercialization of 5G has been achieved. In order to offer optimal 5G in all scenarios, Kirin 990 (5G) comes packed with cutting-edge performance, energy efficiency, AI computing, and ISP, lifting the smartphone user experience to new heights.

Kirin 990 (5G) represents the most compact 5G smartphone solution on the market, with a cutting-edge 7 nm+ EUV manufacturing process. Kirin 990 (5G) is integrated with a 5G modem, simultaneously achieving a smaller area, while maintaining lower power consumption. It is the first full-frequency 5G SoC to support both non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) architectures and TDD/FDD full frequency bands, enabling it to accommodate diverse networks and networking modes. Based on the excellent 5G capabilities seen in the Balong 5000 chipset, Kirin 990 (5G) achieves a leading peak downlink rate of 2.3 Gbit/s and a peak uplink rate of 1.25 Gbit/s in sub-6 GHz frequency bands, for unmatched ease and connectivity.

Kirin 990 (5G) is the first flagship SoC to pack dual-core NPUs built on the Da Vinci architecture. The big core achieves excellent performance and energy efficiency in heavy computing scenarios, while the tiny core implements ultra-low power consumption, fully leveraging the robust, intelligent computing power brought out by the Da Vinci architecture. In terms of CPU, Kirin 990 (5G) carries two big cores, two mid cores, and four little cores, with the dominant frequency of up to 2.86 GHz. Kirin 990 (5G) utilizes the 16-core Mali-G76 GPU and system-level Smart Cache to implement intelligent traffic distribution, effectively saving bandwidth and reducing power consumption. To offer unrivaled smooth gaming, Kirin 990 (5G) supports Kirin Gaming+ 2.0, which enables efficient collaboration between hardware infrastructure and solutions. With regard to photography, Kirin 990 (5G) comes equipped with a brand-new ISP 5.0 that pioneers block-matching and 3D filtering (BM3D), professional-level hardware noise reduction (NR), and temporal and spatial NR (dual-domain NR) on videos, delivering sharp images and videos even in low light environments. Real-time video post-processing and rendering based on AI segmentation adjusts the image color frame-by-frame to provide cinematic viewing experiences. HiAI 2.0 has been upgraded to achieve the best-in-class framework and operator compatibility, with support for a maximum of 300+ operators. HiAI 2.0 is also compatible with all models under mainstream frameworks, equipping developers with more powerful and complete toolchains and spurring further AI application development.

Superb 5G Communications Brought by the World's First 5G SoC.

During the first year of 5G commercialization, there has been accelerated rollout of end devices and networks that boast 5G connectivity. Meanwhile, the emergence of heavy-traffic 5G services, such as live broadcasting and cloud gaming, requires faster and higher quality connections, in line with soaring user expectations. As a leader in 5G technology, Huawei has launched the first-ever flagship 5G SoC Kirin 990 (5G), allowing users to enjoy seamless connections free of delay.

1) A pioneering 5G SoC, with a breakthrough design.

Unlike peer vendors who utilize 4G SoC+5G modems, Kirin 990 (5G) adopts the cutting-edge 7 nm+ EUV manufacturing process, and packs an integrated 5G modem, a first in the industry. This reduces the board area by 36%, when compared with other solutions. With 10.3 billion transistors housed in a fingernail-sized area, Kirin 990 (5G) boasts the largest number of transistors, most complete functions, and most complex manufacturing process of any chipset on the market.

The Kirin SoC development initiated research on EUV as early as 2014, and collaborated with partners across the industry to nurture the development of EUV technology. In order to offer an optimally stable and reliable experience in line with the latest EUV process, Kirin 990 (5G) has undergone strict and extensive key technology verifications to ensure that performance and energy efficiency requirements are met.

2) Blistering-fast, energy-efficient 5G .

Kirin 990 (5G) achieves a peak downlink rate of 2.3 Gbit/s and a peak uplink rate of 1.25 Gbit/s in sub-6 GHz frequency bands, delivering unmatched 5G experiences. It is also the first to support dual 5G SIMs, one for 5G Internet and the other for incoming VoLTE HD calls simultaneously. Compared with the traditional solutions that make use of 4G SoC+5G modems, the Kirin 990 (5G) solution reduces power consumption by 20%, guaranteeing a sustainable 5G user experience.

At the initial stage of 5G commercialization, the insufficient coverage of the 5G network poses challenges that affect user experiences, such as unstable connections in weak signal scenarios, high power consumption, and poor connectivity in high-speed mobile scenarios. Based on Huawei's technical accumulations in 5G, Kirin 990 (5G) has been comprehensively upgraded in terms of 5G communications. For scenarios with weak 5G signals, Kirin 990 (5G) adopts the intelligent uplink traffic distribution design, which leverages both 5G and 4G networks to support applications such as live broadcasting and short video upload. The upload rate increases 5.8x, greatly improving the uplink 5G experience. To reduce the power consumption caused by 5G, Kirin 990 (5G) is the first to support the Bandwidth Part (BWP) technology that flexibly switches bandwidth resources under 5G large bandwidth. Compared with other flagship SoCs, Kirin 990 (5G) reduces power consumption by 44% and ensures better battery life. In high-speed mobility scenarios, Kirin 990 (5G) offers a machine learning-based adaptive receiver for more precise channel measurement, improving the downlink rate by 19% and ensuring stable connections.

3) First-ever full-frequency 5G SoC, a glimpse into the future.

In addition to enhancing the individual mobile user experience, 5G technology also integrates mobile communications with a wide range of different industries, laying the groundwork for a fully connected, intelligent world. 5G comes with two networking modes: SA and NSA. NSA networking achieves only ultra-high bandwidth, while SA networking also better supports massive connections at low latency. Low latency and massive connections are the inevitable requirements for the comprehensive digitalization and intelligence of an entire industry. Recently, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) department of China announced that beginning from January 1, 2020, only 5G-ready end devices capable of both SA and NSA networking modes will be permitted to access the network. Therefore, NSA networking is only a temporary solution at the initial stage of 5G commercialization. A mature 5G solution must support both SA and NSA..

Huawei has been committed to 5G research and development since 2009, a decade of tireless effort. Over this period, Huawei has developed end-to-end solutions supporting both SA and NSA, ranging from the 5G core network and base stations, to 5G smartphones, 5G CPEs, and 5G modems. Kirin 990 (5G) is also the first full-frequency 5G SoC to support both SA and NSA networking modes, an advance that is ahead of its time. As the first SoC to support TDD/FDD full frequency bands, Kirin 990 (5G) adapts to all 5G network frequency band requirements, accelerating 5G network deployment for carriers and bringing an unrivaled 5G experience to consumers one step ahead..

Innovative Dual-Core NPU for Robust AI Computing Power.

Kirin series SoCs have consistently led the way with regard to on-device development. In 2017, Kirin 970 became the first-ever SoC to pack an independent neural network processing unit (NPU), pioneering on-device AI capabilities. In 2018, Kirin 980 came equipped with a dual-core NPU for unmatched AI computing power, enabling a number of innovative AI features, such as AI color and calorie recognition. In 2019, the high-end SoC Kirin 810 carried Huawei's in-house Da Vinci NPU, setting a new standard for on-device AI performance.

In the AI+5G era, Kirin 990 (5G) extends on-device AI to new, soaring heights. It is the first flagship SoC to be integrated with in-house Da Vinci dual-core NPUs, delivering premium performance and energy efficiency through the big core, and ultra-low power consumption via the tiny core. The in-house Da Vinci architecture is a brand-new AI computing architecture released by Huawei in 2018. With a high degree of versatility, it enables Huawei to roll out Ascend series chipsets for all AI scenarios. The chipsets apply to training scenarios ranging from tens of milliwatts to hundreds of watts, providing optimal computing power across all scenarios. The NPUs integrated to Kirin 990 (5G) are Ascend Lite and Ascend Tiny, which were developed specifically for smartphones.

With robust dual big cores (Ascend Lite), Kirin 990 (5G) delivers unparalleled AI computing power at 6x higher, and 8x more energy efficient than other flagship AI chipsets. Ranging from a typical mid-load neural network model ResNet50 (used for detection, segmentation, and recognition) to a light-load neural network model MobileNetV1 (used for classification, detection, embedding, and segmentation and more popular on mobile devices), Kirin 990 (5G) achieves the industry's optimal performance and energy efficiency in both FP16 and INT8 computations. Ascend Tiny enables ultra-low power consumption applications. For instance, with facial recognition, it improves energy efficiency 24x compared with the big core, for remarkable low power AI computing.

The extraordinary AI computing feature enables applications that were previously limited by the power and computing consumption, to skyrocket from niche to mainstream. Kirin 990 (5G) enables multiple-person segmentation for real-time background replacement. With advanced AI multi-instance segmentation technology, it is capable of identifying each person or object in a video image separately and replacing the background in real time during video shooting. The technology also allows users to retain specified individuals in videos, opening up a broad range of video applications. Based on AI power on Kirin 990 (5G), AI super resolution optimizes the videos shoot via less capable devices, to deliver instantaneous HD imagery. Kirin 990 (5G) further empowers AI applications by maximizing AI computing power and opening up more capabilities. This combination of a higher 5G rate, low latency, and wide connections will assuredly unlock diverse smart applications.

Performance and Energy Efficiency Benchmark for Lightning-fast 5G.

In the 5G era, users not only require faster mobile communications, but also smartphones that run seamlessly for all tasks. Kirin 990 (5G) facilitates a leap in performance and energy efficiency largely due to 7 nm+ EUV technology, for consistently fast and smooth user experiences..

In terms of CPU, Kirin 990 (5G) packs two big cores (customized based on Cortex-A76), two mid cores (customized based on Cortex-A76) and four little cores (Cortex-A55), with the maximum dominant frequency of 2.86 GHz, improving single-core performance by 10% and multi-core performance by 9% in comparison with other flagship SoCs. With regard to energy efficiency, the specifications of performance and efficiency cores have been fine-tuned, enabling a 12% improvement for big cores, 35% for mid cores, and 15% for little cores, accelerating the responsiveness of mobile applications.

As for GPU, Kirin 990 (5G) utilizes the 16-core Mali-G76 to solve diverse issues such as overheating, frame loss, and frame freezing that are prone to occur in heavy-load gaming or HD video scenarios. Compared with other flagship SoCs, Kirin 990 (5G) improves graphics processing performance by 6% and energy efficiency by 20%. The system-level Smart Cache enables intelligent allocation of DDR data, meaning that in heavy-load scenarios such as gaming, bandwidth is reduced by up to 15% and power consumption by 12% in comparison with the previous generation, further improving GPU energy efficiency.

Kirin 990 (5G) also comes equipped with Kirin Gaming+ 2.0. Based on the high-performance and energy-efficient CPU, GPU, and DDR chips, Kirin Gaming+ 2.0 enables high-performance, energy-efficient, and high-quality gaming solutions, delivering an industry-leading gaming experience. By maximizing the newly upgraded AI frequency modulation scheduling technology, Kirin Gaming+ 2.0 integrates GPU frequency modulation scheduling into CPU and DDR frequency modulation scheduling. It also supports optimization of gaming-associated threads to dynamically detect performance bottlenecks. In addition, Kirin Gaming+ 2.0 sets up performance and power consumption models based on extensive gaming images with more than 1 million frames, and implements frame-based performance and power consumption scheduling. As a result, the gaming frame rate is stable at 60 fps, and the frequency modulation accuracy per frame improves by 30%. The SoC also supports HDR 10 for heightened graphics quality.

Upgrading ISP 5.0: Bringing out the Beauty in Every Moment.

Video has become a dominant medium for recording daily life, and a fixture on social media. Therefore, today's smartphone user expects high-level shooting effects. Meeting these lofty demands requires simple but intelligent video processing. Kirin 990 (5G) addresses this with the new ISP 5.0, which improves the throughput rate by 15% and energy efficiency by 15%.

At night or in low light environments, the quality of images captured can be greatly compromised by either temporal or spatial noise. Temporal noise is generated when two consecutive frames in playback change with time, and spatial noise refers to the inherent, existing noise in each frame. Unlike common solutions that focus only on temporal NR, Kirin 990 (5G) implements both temporal and spatial NR (dual-domain) on videos for the first time. It also adds frequency-domain NR to videos with hybrid frequencies by focusing on precise noise separation, improving video NR capability by 20% and delivering sharp video imagery, even when shooting in low light scenes. Real-time video post-processing and rendering technology based on AI segmentation fine-tunes image colors, allowing for cinema-quality viewing.

Block-matching and 3D filtering (BM3D) equips mobile phones with first-rate image processing and improves the NR capability by 30%, greatly reducing noise in low light environments and delivering sharper, more vivid images.

Kirin 990 (5G) utilizes an upgraded ISP to deliver the brand-new Face AR technology. It delivers high-level face modeling, real-time tracking, and recognition of subtle facial expressions based on the captured facial images and NPU-based neural network algorithms. Face AR is also capable of analyzing health data such as the heart rate and respiratory rate, and implementing this analysis across a wide range of AR applications.

HiAI 2.0: Boundless New Possibilities, Unlocking AI+5G Capabilities.

In the AI+5G era, lightweight, installation-free, cross-platform, and interactive experiences have assumed higher priority in the development of future applications. This ongoing trend requires smartphone SoCs to support AI capabilities throughout chip-device-cloud ecosystem, and more big data and platform technology clusters. Based on Huawei's in-house Da Vinci NPUs and the opening up of HiAI Foundation capabilities, the Kirin platform will continue to equip developers with enhanced on-device computing power, unleashing the potential of seemingly limitless resources. Driven by Kirin 990 (5G), HiAI 2.0 opens up more capabilities and supports 300+ operators, the highest figure in the industry. The IDE tool and Android Studio plug-in support automatic code generation and improve the development efficiency. The IR layer of the Da Vinci architecture has been opened for the interconnection with all framework models in the industry, empowering algorithm developers to retain their original development practices on the revolutionary, accelerated HiAI platform. In addition, more powerful toolchains have been opened to developers, unlocking a diverse range of AI+5G applications..

As a leader in the fields of 5G and AI, Huawei strives to fully harness the unique technological capabilities of the Kirin platform and share these benefits broadly, for the benefit of the entire industry..

Kirin 990, which was introduced with the release of Kirin 990 (5G), has also been significantly enhanced, delivering a next-level 4G mobile experience with upgraded performance, energy efficiency, AI, and photography..

It has been reported that HUAWEI Mate series, powered by the Kirin 990 series, is set for release in September, 2019. The application of Kirin 990 series in flagship smartphones, is sure to bring new and exciting improvements to smartphone performance and 5G connectivity. Stay tuned for further information about the release, and related developments for 5G technology..