Huawei's chipset manufacturer, HiSilicon, officially announced the new Kirin 950 chipset at the end of last week. The Kirin 950 is a new generation, 64-bit chip based around two clusters of application cores in a conventional big.LITTLE architecture. The lower tier cluster consists of a quad core ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at up to 1.8 GHz and the higher performance tier consists of four ARM Cortex-A72 cores, clocked at up to 2.3 GHz. These application cores are assisted by ARM's Mali-T880MP-4 GPU, which itself includes four graphics processor cores. When ARM announced the Mali-T880, their performance figures showed that it was some 80% more powerful compared with the previous generation GPU, the Mali-T760, which Samsung use in the Exynos 7420 chipset residing in the Galaxy S6 family of smartphones. Whilst the improvement in raw pixel pushing performance is appreciated, of perhaps more interest to most smartphone customers is that for the same performance, the newer generation GPU uses some 40% less energy (and so produces 40% less heat). However, comparing the Mali-T880 with an older Mali chipset shows an even wider difference in the performance.
We have today seen the first benchmark comparing the Huawei Mate 8, the first smartphone to be equipped with the Kirin 950, compared with the Huawei Mate S, seen as the Mate 8's predecessor. The Huawei Mate S comes with the HiSilicon Kirin 935 chipset, which uses two clusters of the ARM Cortex-A53 application processor, one cluster clocked at up to 1.5 GHz and the second at up to 2.2 GHz. These application cores are backed up by the ARM Mali-T628 GPU and in the case of the Mate S, this drives a FHD 1080p display. In short, we would expect the Huawei Mate 8 to outclass the Mate S: this is exactly that the benchmarks show. The Mate 8 benchmarks at around twice the performance of the Mate S in the offscreen benchmarks. In day to day use, the Mate 8's chipset should use less power compared with the Mate S, but it remains to be seen if the 1440p resolution display will make up for the power consumption difference.
Until recently, Huawei appeared to be dead set against using a QHD resolution display in a smartphone, although defended their line by stating at (at the time) the mobile chipset technology was not up to the task. It would appear that the arrival and launch of the HiSilicon Kirin 950 has changed the rules - and this underpins just how quickly modern chipsets are evolving. The Mate 8 is shaping up to be a very exciting and powerful new device from Huawei.