In short: Huawei and its subsidiary HiSilicon have what appear to be highly unrealistic expectations for the new Kirin 980 chip; during a press brief in Dubai, the Chinese manufacturer told reporters it expects the recently announced module to outperform the A12 Bionic, Apple’s latest silicon powering the newly released iPhones. The company’s representatives did not elaborate on the matter, having only suggested the upcoming Mate 20 — the first handset lineup powered by the new system-on-chip — will mark the start of another, massively improved smartphone generation. AndroidHeadlines reached out to Huawei for clarification on the backing behind those ambitious claims but has yet to hear back.
Background: Announced at this year’s IFA trade show in Berlin, the Kirin 980 debuted as the world’s first chip manufactured on a 7nm process node, as well as the most powerful such silicon on the planet. Apple’s A12 Bionic still beat it to the market as the new iPhones are already available for purchase as of last week and have set record-high benchmark results, much like virtually every previous generation of the Cupertino-based tech giant’s chips. The initial synthetic benchmark scores of select HiSilicon chips were also the subject of some controversy earlier this summer after it came to light that both Huawei and Honor manipulated such testing tools. The claim that the Kirin 980 rivals or even outperforms the A12 Bionic may be based on the fact that both contain approximately 6.9 billion transistors, though Apple historically delivered much more optimized chips, which seems to be the case this year as well. HiSilicon’s offering may have a shout in the artificial intelligence department given how it features two neural processing units dedicated to on-device AI computing, twice as much as the Kirin 970 had.
Impact: Huawei’s claim that the Kirin 980 will outpace the A12 Bionic is likely marketing talk referring to some highly specific use case(s) as the performance gap between Apple’s chips and those used by Android device manufacturers is still sizeable given how the former has the luxury of only having to optimize its silicon for a small number of handsets every year. Huawei may elaborate on the matter on October 16 when the Mate 20 series powered by the newly introduced silicon is scheduled to be officially announced.