Huawei Unveils World’s First Commercial 7nm SoC

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By Dipo Olowookere

World’s first commercial system on a chip (SoC) manufactured with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer Company’s (TSMC) 7nm process, Kirin 980, has been unveiled by Huawei.

This technology was unfolded at the IFA 2018 by the Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO, Mr Richard Yu, during his keynote address.

The Kirin 980 is the system on a chip that will bring about the next evolution of mobile AI, combining best-in-class performance, efficiency, connectivity features, and Dual NPU AI processing power.

“Last year, we showed the world the potential of On-Device AI with the Kirin 970, and this year, we’ve designed an all-round powerhouse that features outstanding AI capabilities, and brings cutting-edge raw performance to consumers,” said Mr Yu. “Equipped with all-new CPU, GPU and Dual NPU, the Kirin 980 is the ultimate engine to power next-generation productivity and entertainment applications.”

The cutting edge TSMC 7nm process technology enables Kirin 980 to pack 6.9 billion transistors within a 1cm2 die size, 1.6 times of the previous generation. Compared to the 10nm process, the 7nm process delivers 20 percent improved SoC performance and 40 percent improved SoC power efficiency.

The Kirin 980 is the first SoC to embed Cortex-A76-based cores, which are 75 percent more powerful and 58 percent more efficient compared to their previous generation. The Kirin CPU subsystem uses an intelligent Flex-scheduling mechanism that creates a 3-level energy efficiency architecture consisting of two super-big cores based on Cortex-A76, two big cores based on Cortex-A76, and four little cores Cortex-A55. Compared with the traditional big.LITTLE design, this solution designates the large high-performance cores to handle immediate, intensive workloads; the large, high-efficiency cores to provide sustained performance; and ultra-efficiency cores to tackle everyday, light activities with extreme power efficiency. Kirin 980 enables quicker app launch times, better multi-tasking and a generally smoother user experience.

As graphics in mobile games have become more and more sophisticated in recent years, Huawei has integrated the Mali-G76 GPU into the Kirin 980 to deliver unparalleled gaming experiences. Debuting with the Kirin 980, Mali-G76 offers 46 percent greater graphics processing power at 178 percent improved power efficiency over the previous generation.

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