As a top-notch SoC manufacturer in China, Huawei Hisilicon Kirin series has become more aggressive and reached the international level similar to Qualcomm Snapdragon. It will achieve a huge leap every year regarding performance and technology. The latest successor of the series ‘Kirin 970’ was the first SoC with AI technology and is successfully running in Huawei’s best flagships such as Huawei Mate 10 series, Honor V10, and P20 series. According to the Chinese media, Hisilicon Kirin 980 mas production will begin this quarter, using TSMC’s latest 7nm process.
Samsung and TSMC have been fiercely competing in new processes in recent years, and have been frantically fighting for orders. On the 7nm process, Samsung plans to introduce the world’s first EUV lithography. However, new technologies will take longer to develop, adjust, and equip in the device.
Meanwhile, TSMC is based on the existing technology to build a 7nm process. Next year, it will join EUV and upgrade to 7nm+. Soon after, it will reach 5nm process in 2020 directly into EUV.
In the first quarter of this year, TSMC’s 7nm process has already been taken into mass production. It can contribute about 10% of its revenue this year, and has already taken many orders, just like Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and Apple A13.
Huawei and TSMC have been cooperating closely. They have been working together since 28nm, and have been continuing at 16nm, 10nm, and 7nm process technology.
Kirin 970 uses the TSMC 10nm for the first time. Moreover, Kirin 980 will be the first SoC based on 7nm.
The specific configuration and features of Kirin 980 are unclear as it has just started its mass production. It was previously reported that the A75 CPU architecture might be used (after all, the Kirin 970 CPU has not changed). The GPU is expected to be developed independently by Huawei, and the NPU neural network unit used for AI artificial intelligence is also inevitable. The AI will be much advanced and evolve into the second generation.
Not surprisingly, Kirin 980 will be released this fall, featuring the Mate 11 series (or Mate 20). So, Huawei Mate 11 will be the first phone to feature the first 7nm SoC as well as the second generation of AI.
Source (in Chinese)