The Kirin 990 is exactly what you'd expect, a true powerhouse. This processor, unlike Qualcomm's Snapdragon 855 platform, supports 5G out of the box. In other words, it does not need a separate modem in order to achieve that.
The Kirin 990 is a considerable improvement over its predecessor
Compared to the Kirin 980, this processor offers improvements across the board, more or less. Huawei emphasized AI performance and network capabilities, though. This chip also brings improved image-processing capabilities.
The Huawei Kirin 990 is 64-bit octa-core processor (2+2+4 cluster design). It combines four Cortex-A55 cores with four Cortex-A76 cores. The thing is, two of those Cortex-A76 cores offer different clock speed than the other two.
Two are clocked at 2.86GHz, while the remaining two are set at 2.36GHz. All Cortex-A55 cores are clocked at 1.95GHz.
Its GPU is 6-percent faster than the Adreno 640
This chip includes the Mali-G76 MP16 GPU, and that GPU runs at 600MHz. Huawei actually claims that this GPU beats the Snapdragon 855's Adreno 640 GPU by 6-percent in performance tests. It also claims that it is 20-percent more power-efficient. This processor supports LPDDR4X RAM (2,133MHz), just like its predecessor.
Unlike the Kirin 980, the Kirin 990 does support UFS 3.0 flash storage. That is the latest and fastest flash storage available in the market, and it will undoubtedly be included in the Mate 30 & Mate 30 Pro. Speaking of which, this SoC will definitely fuel those two devices, as well as the Huawei P30 series flagships.
The Kirin 990 uses the DaVinci big/small architecture NPU (Neural Processing Unit), which is also a considerable improvement over the Kirin 980. Both 4G and 5G modems are integrated into this chip. The chip is capable of supporting download speeds of up to 2,300Mb/s, and upload speeds of up to 1,250Mb/s.
It's manufactured using TSMC's 7nm+ EUV process
This chip is manufactured using TSMC's 7nm+ EUV (extreme ultraviolet lithography) process. The Kirin 980 was also a 7nm chip, but was not manufactured using EUV process.
It is also worth noting that the Kirin 990 takes up 36-percent less space than the competition with included 5G modems. In other words, it takes up less space than the Exynos 9825 + 5100 Modem needed for 5G connectivity. The same can be said for the Snapdragon 855 + Snapdragon X50 combo.
The Kirin 990 features an improved version of Kirin 980's AI-based scheduler. Its goal is to balance power consumption and performance, that goes for all aspects of the Kirin 990, basically.
This chip will debut with the Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro flagship smartphones later this month. The two devices are scheduled to arrive on September 19, so we won't have to wait long to see this chip in action.