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Huawei Takes Lead in Smartphone AI

July 30, 2019

Author: Mike Demler

The Huawei Kirin 810 processor targets the highly competitive mid-premium smartphone tier, but because it has a new deep-learning accelerator (DLA), it crushes the company’s flagship Kirin 980 by a whopping 43% on the AI-Benchmark summary score. Those test rankings change frequently as vendors update their drivers, but on the latest 3.0.2 version, the 810 catapults into the top spot with a cumulative score that beats its nearest competitors by more than 15%.

The company manufactures the Kirin 810 using the same 7nm TSMC technology as the Kirin 980, making it the first mid-premium smartphone processor at that node. The 7nm shrink also enables the chip to raise the bar for CPU and GPU performance in that segment, delivering 10–15% higher scores than competitors on the Antutu and Geekbench tests. The 810 is in volume production, and Huawei recently started shipping the first 810-based phone: the Nova 5, selling for about $400 at the company’s online store.

Launching the industry’s first 7nm mid-premium chip has given it an advantage over its rivals. Huawei has already overtaken Apple for second place in smartphone shipments, and it’s closing in on Samsung for first place. Like Apple, it doesn’t sell chips to other handset makers, but unlike Apple, its HiSilicon subsidiary produces a broad range of chips covering entry to flagship phones. With its latest design, Huawei will gain even more market share, reducing opportunities for all of its competitors.

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