Best Of IFA 2019: Huawei Kirin 990

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Huawei's Kirin 990 is a powerful, versatile and the world's first complete 5G SoC

There's many reasons why one SoC brand might claim superiority over others, and to a degree, those reasons will be true.

However, when it comes to the world's first flagship 5G SoC, that status belongs to Huawei and the Kirin 990.

Making the latest Huawei SoC worthy of a best of IFA award.

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Not the first announced, but the first released

Huawei was not the first to announce an integrated 5G SoC. For example, Samsung beat Huawei to the punch just a few days ago with the introduction of the Exynos 980. Likewise, Qualcomm announced back in February that it's solution was on the way.

The difference is, both Samsung and Qualcomm's solutions are still some time away from hitting the market. Qualcomm has yet to even officially introduce its solution with the expectation that will happen in the next few months. While the Exynos 980 has been announced, it is not set to begin mass production until later in the year.

In contrast, and although Huawei did not officially confirm this in the SoC announcement, the Kirin 990 looks all set to launch in a device within a matter of weeks.

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Huawei has already confirmed it will unveil its latest flagship phone, the Mate 30 in September. That's not a surprise considering the company routinely announces the latest Mate phone around this time of year.

Just like it routinely announces its latest SoC at IFA each year, and just like how that SoC always ends up in the phone that comes through in the weeks following.

The Mate 30 and the Kirin 990 will be no different. Making Huawei the first company to release a device with a complete 5G SoC.

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Kirin 990 is more than just a 'we're first' claim

While it is good marketing to be the first to market, the Kirin 990 is more than that. This is the latest flagship SoC from the company and will power the company's newest flagship phones. In other words, it is a powerful chip. It is also a versatile chip.

If being the first to launch a unified 5G chip was not enough, Huawei has not placed all of its eggs in the one 5G basket. Instead, the company announced two versions of the The 7-nm processor today. One is the 5G version – Kirin 990 (5G) – and the other is a non-5G version – Kirin 990.

This is an important move as it allows for upcoming phones using the latest Huawei SoC to not be dictated by aspects like price just because they are 5G-enabled. This is a chip that caters to both the future 5G and the present 4G markets in equal measure.

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Why does an integrated chip matter so much?

This is a fairly simple question to answer with two of the main benefits best summed up as size and performance.

On the size front, having an integrated or unified chip results in a smaller chip overall. For example, compared to having to include a separate modem. Smaller is usually better in this respect and unified chips are about as small as it gets.

When it comes to performance, unification matters as it means the chip has been specifically designed and constructed with the overall performance in mind. This is not a case of having to make sure the different components work well together. Instead, those components are built to work together from the ground up.

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You can even take this further and focus on specific performance-related benefits of the unified design. A prime example being the overall increased power efficiency provided by a unified design.

In SoC land, power efficiency is a really big selling point.

To be clear, there are some compromises such as the lack of mmWave support. However, that is more of an issue for users in the US than elsewhere and considering Huawei phones are not exactly freely available in the US, it's less of an issue than it sounds. It is also not an isolated issue as Samsung's Exynos 980 also does not support mmWave.

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Overall, an all-in-one and all-scenario SoC

To sum up the Kirin 990, Huawei has all the bases covered here. Those who want a 5G integrated SoC that offers 2.3Gbps download speed or 1.25Gbps upload speed, the Kirin 990 has you covered.

If you want a 4G SoC that can be included in phones without artificially jacking up the price for network access that most people still don't have, the Kirin 990 has you covered.

If you also want an SoC which comes with the usual generation-over-generation CPU and GPU improvements, the Kirin 990 has you covered.

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It really is a powerful, versatile and the world's first complete 5G SoC.