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Kirin 9000 Is Huawei’s First 5nm Chip

December 15, 2020

Author: Aakash Jani

Huawei’s new Kirin 9000, a product of the company’s HiSilicon chip-design subsidiary, uses an Arm Mali-G78 to provide industry-leading graphics performance. The Mali GPU implements the new Valhall architecture and increases the core count compared with the Kirin 990 5G. This improvement yields 2x higher scores on GPU benchmarks and a 2.9x boost on the AI-Benchmark suite.

The new chip has the same Big.Little CPU architecture as its predecessor: a single prime Cortex-A77, three slower A77s, and four power-efficient Cortex-A55s. It also reuses the dual-core deep-learning accelerator (DLA) from the Kirin 990. The Kirin 9000 is 5G capable through the integrated next-generation Balong 5000 modem. The new modem supports a peak sub-6GHz downlink speed of 4.6Gbps and a peak uplink speed of 2.5Gbps.

The chip is Huawei’s first 5nm product. It’s also the first 5nm Android-smartphone processor. The manufacturing-node advancement allows the company to increase frequency and area without severe power penalties. The 9000 is in volume production and recently began shipping in the Huawei Mate 40 Pro for 6,999 yuan ($1,065).

Due to US sanctions, TSMC halted production of Huawei chips in September, limiting the number of phones Huawei can ship. The sanctions also restrict the company’s software stack because its phones are unable to support Google services, limiting Android’s capabilities. In 4Q20, Huawei announced the sale of its Honor smartphone business, which addressed low-end to mid-tier prices. Over the past year, the division sold 52 million smartphones, about 26% of Huawei’s unit volume but a much smaller portion by revenue. The sale comes after a 23% year-over-year decrease in total shipments for 3Q; Huawei executives acknowledged that sanctions are disrupting its sales.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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