Huawei's semiconductor subsidiary HiSilicon is working on its next-generation mobile chipset called the Kirin 970. The system-on-chip (SoC) has been subjected to several rumors so far, and more recently the chipset has been brought into the headlines once again by industry analyst Pan Jiutang. In a recent post on China's Weibo platform, the analyst speculates that the Kirin 970 SoC will be manufactured by TSMC using 10nm nodes, and adds that the chipset will be equipped with an enhanced graphics processing unit (GPU).
The idea that the HiSilicon Kirin 970 SoC will employ an updated GPU is not new, as earlier in May a rumor emerged from China to suggest that the chipset will make use of a GPU based on an upcoming architecture called ARM Heimdallr. Either way, Jiutang believes that the Kirin 970 will be mass-manufactured by TSMC and adds that the first smartphone to make use of the next-gen mobile chipset will launch or be mass-produced in Q3 2017. The analyst made no mention of which smartphone will adopt the SoC first, but rumors indicate that the device could be the Huawei Mate 10. Historically, the company's Mate series was the first to adopt HiSilicon's new chipsets, with the Mate 8 introducing the Kirin 950 SoC in 2015, and the Huawei Mate 9 being the first to employ the Kirin 960 silicon in 2016.
The Huawei Mate 10 is rumored to be unveiled before the end of the summer, in which case it will likely hit the shelves in early fall. This timeframe would technically allow the device to become an early Kirin 970 adopter, so in other words, the availability of the next-gen chipset will possibly be intertwined with the release of the Mate 10. According to previous rumors, the aforementioned flagship will feature a bezel-less 6-inch display with a screen-to-body ratio higher than 83 percent and will run Android 7.1 Nougat out of the box. Other rumors indicate that the Mate 10 will be one of the first smartphones to hide a fingerprint recognition sensor underneath a mobile display and that the company is reportedly considering equipping the device with a total of four cameras. Whether or not the Huawei Mate 10 will indeed make use of the HiSilicon Kirin 970 chipset remains to be seen, but by all accounts, the SoC appears to be getting closer to mass production and its eventual commercial debut.