Huawei is currently working on its next-generation chipset following the HiSilicon Kirin 960, known as the Kirin 970 system-on-chip (SoC). The silicon was initially expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2017, however, this hasn’t come to pass and its exact release date is currently unknown. Nevertheless, new rumors surrounding the upcoming SoC's specifications have now emerged from China, suggesting that the Kirin 970 will be manufactured in TSMC’s factories using a 10nm FinFET process.
In addition to that, the information passed along on Weibo by sources from China suggests that the HiSilicon Kirin 970 will utilize ARM Cortex-A73 cores, presumably in an octa-core configuration. There is no mention of ARM Cortex-A53 cores so whether or not the CPU will take advantage of the big.LITTLE microarchitecture remains to be seen. For the sake of comparison, Huawei’s ongoing HiSilicon Kirin 960 SoC was built by TSMC using a 16nm FFC process. The source further adds that the Kirin 970 will support LTE 5 carrier aggregation with compatibility for most of the global frequency bands. Lastly, the leak indicates that the HiSilicon Kirin 970 could be the first chipset to adopt an ARM graphics chip based on a yet-to-be-announced architecture referred to as “ARM Heimdallr.” For added context, Heimdallr is the name of a god in the Norse mythology and ARM’s previous generations of graphics chips have also been identified by Norse names, including Utgard, Midgard, and the more recent Bifrost which sits at the basis of the ARM Mali-G71 graphics chip employed by the ongoing Kirin 960 SoC.
Keep in mind that the rumors above are not set in stone, and as a reminder, the HiSilicon Kirin 970 has been the subject of numerous previous rumors, none of which have been confirmed. Last December it was suggested that the Kirin 970 will sport four ARM Cortex-A73 cores along with four ARM Cortex-A53 cores and that the CPU will operate at a maximum frequency of 3.0GHz. The same rumors also hinted at a 10nm manufacturing process but the switch from 16nm is expected given the current evolution of mobile chipsets. An update on Huawei's upcoming piece of silicon will likely follow in the coming months.