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Kirin 985 Upgrades AI Performance

June 9, 2020

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 Huawei has announced the Kirin 985 as its 5G offering for the mid-premium segment. This SoC is an upgrade from the 4G Kirin 810, providing greater single- and multithread CPU performance. In addition to these performance increases, the 985 has a newer Arm GPU that delivers architectural performance increases. It retains Huawei’s in-house DaVinci accelerator while more than doubling AI performance. 

Along with the new 5G modem, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also received an upgrade, moving to newer versions of the established protocols. At the system level, the two chips are similar: both have eight CPUs as well as an image processor (ISP), video engine, and system-cache on the die. The 985 and 810 are both manufactured in 7nm TSMC technology, so the new chip lacks any advantage due to process node.

To target the mid-premium segment, Huawei carefully differentiated the 985 from the premium Kirin 990 5G. The latter takes advantage of 7nm+ EUV technology at TSMC to boost the CPU cluster’s performance. In addition, it offers a superior GPU cluster. The 985 is already shipping in the Huawei Nova 7 Pro 5G, which sells for $679. Huawei deploys Kirin chips in its own phones but doesn’t offer them to other companies.

The 985 competes against Qualcomm’s mid-premium Snapdragon 765 and MediaTek’s Dimensity 800. All three have similar CPUs and GPUs, but Kirin boasts an advantage in both areas. The DaVinci architecture delivers much greater AI performance as well. 

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