Dubai: With chipmakers such as Samsung, Qualcomm and MediaTek out to garner more market share, Huawei plans to stand apart with its new mobile chipset — the Kirin 980 — packed with more artificial intelligence (AI) features. Only Huawei and Samsung produce their own chipsets while other manufactures depend on Qualcomm and MediaTek chipsets.
Speaking to Gulf News, Shawn Sheng, vice-president for handset product and technology management department at Huawei Consumer Business Group, said the new chipset is the first to use cutting-edge seven nanometre (nm) technology much before others. Samsung’s Exynos 9810 and Qualcomm’s 845 chipsets are based on 10nm, while Apple is rumoured to come out with its own A12 chipset based on 7nm for its new iPhones to be launched on September 12.
Huawei is set to launch its Mate series with the new chipset on October 16. “The 980 chipset can provide 20 per cent more computing capabilities and 40 per cent less power consumption,” said Sheng.
“We use new CPU and GPU cores and dual NPUs (neural processing unit, which is the brain behind AI). We use two super big cores for graphic-intensive apps, two big cores for social apps and four small cores for voice calls on the octa-core 980 chipset compared to four big and four small cores on octacore 970 chipset.”
The new chipset packs 6.9 billion transistors within a one-centimetre square die-size, 1.6 times more than the previous generation 970 chipset. With mobile gaming becoming more sophisticated, the Mali-G76 GPU offers 46 per cent more graphics processing power at 178 per cent improved power efficiency over the earlier generation.
“The GPU utilises AI to identify gaming workloads and adjust resource allocation for optimal gaming performance,” he said.
After Huawei launched devices with AI features on its 970 chipset, he said others are following with software features. But “we have the hardware to elevate the AI experience with greater processing power and intelligence.”
With dual NPUs, it can recognise up to 4,500 images per minute, up 120 per cent compared to Kirin 970 chipset. The Snapdragon 845 chipset recognises up to 2,371 images while Apple’s A11 Bionic chip recognises 1,458 images.
Sheng said that the 970 chipset uses AI only for still shots, but with 980, it can provide AI processing for videos also. Not only that, the dual NPUs can provide 60 frames per second for gaming.
Regarding the oversaturation of colours than the original with an AI camera, he said Huawei is giving two options. “The person who does not want more artificial colours can enable the AI mode and others can disable the feature to opt for the natural colours,” he said. “The automatic mode uses AI driven scene recognition modes (19) to recognise the scene in order to optimise settings.”
AI needs to learn from the user behaviour compared to the human intelligence and it will take time to show the best results. “Today we use our hands to operate the phones, but in the future with AI, we may use voice to talk to phones and our phones will be watching and listening to us to understand the owners and take action in response to their objectives. For AI to become real AI, it will take at least three years,” he said.
When asked why innovation is not happening in the smartphone space, he said display and camera technology is improving while the processor is also becoming more powerful and efficient. He said that Huawei P20 devices can be connected to a monitor to convert it into a full-fledged computer.
“We are bringing innovation into the smartphone space much more than other vendors and we invest a lot in research and development,” he said.
With talks of flexible displays by Samsung and others, Huawei is also working on similar options. But Sheng did not give an exact time frame for the launch.