During Huawei’s CEO, Richard Yu’s keynote at IFA 2017, the company unveiled its latest processor, the Kirin 970. This new processor is going to be the future of machine learning and artificial intelligence for Huawei. It’s an octa-core CPU, with a new 12-core GPU. Much like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset, the Kirin 970 is also built on a 10nm process, which means the processor is smaller and uses less power, allowing manufacturers to fill the smartphone with more things like a larger battery. Huawei says that compared to a quad-core Cortex-A73 cluster, the Kirin 970 provides computing architecture that is up to 25X better in performance and 50X greater efficiency. Meaning that the Kirin 970 is more powerful while using less power.
As was heavily rumored before the announcement today, the Kirin 970 does have a dedicated Neural Processing Unit or a NPU. And it’s the first mobile AI computing platform featuring an NPU for Huawei. What this means is that all of the Neural Processing is don on this dedicated unit, instead of on the actual processor. Allowing the processor to keep up its speed and provide the user with a greater experience. Huawei notes that in a benchmark image recognition test, the Kirin 970 processed around 2,000 images per minute, and that’s faster than other chips that are currently available on the market. However, Huawei did not mention which chips they were comparing it to, nor how much faster it was.
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According to Huawei, to bolster new developments in artificial intelligence, it’s going to require joint effort across the entire value chain. And that goes from the hardware that is being used – like the Kirin 970 – all the way up to the developers writing the software for AI applications. This is the first step for Huawei in positioning the Kirin 970 as an open platform for mobile AI, and it opens the Kirin 970 up for developers and partners to innovate on it. At this time, there have been no announcements made as to what devices will launch with the Kirin 970, but many people are expecting the Huawei Mate 10 to have it included, which is expected to debut next month in Germany.