Huawei are one of the world's largest Android smartphone and tablet manufacturers, vying with Xiaomi as the number one manufacturer in the Chinese market. The business has recently announced the Nexus 6P in conjunction with Google, as one of the 2015 Nexus devices and running current high end hardware. However, Huawei also have their own semiconductor chipset; whilst the Nexus 6P is based around the Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 System-on-Chip, Huawei's HiSilicon unit have been building the Kirin-branded chipset for some time. We have been aware that HiSilicon have been preparing the Kirin 950 System-on-Chip for some time now.
Leaked documents over the summer have shown us something about the architecture of the new chip, which is believed to be an octa-core design based around a quad core cluster of ARM Cortex-A53 applications processors and another quad core cluster of ARM Cortex-A72 application processors, arranged in a conventional big.LITTLE configuration and with a maximum clock speed of 2.4 GHz. We also believe that the new chipset will be built on a 16nm processor die and will include the ARM Mali-T880 GPU, graphics processor unit, together with an i7 Tensilica Hi-Fi quality audio co-processor. The chipset will also support Category 10 LTE networks.
As regards the expected performance of the Kirin 950, given that it is based around ARM's newer generation Cortex-A72 application processor core, it is expected to be significantly more powerful than the current chipsets based around the ARM Cortex-A57 core, such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon and Samsung Exynos 7420. We've seen some rumors that point towards the Kirin 950 being more powerful than the Snapdragon 820 but until both processors are released in devices, this remains to be seen. Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 is due out at the end of the year or early in 2016 but a recent report cites HiSilicon may be about to launch the Kirin 950 later this week on the 5 November at a press event in Bejing, China. Once the Kirin 950 has been announced, it is expected that the new chipset will be used to power a couple of handsets due out before the end of the year: the Huawei Honor 7 Plus and the Huawei Mate 8. Perhaps more significantly, the rumor also points towards ZTE announcing a device powered by the new chipset also in the next few days. This is a developing story and we will let you know as soon as we have confirmation of a new System-on-Chip launch.