In addition to focusing on the creation and manufacturing of smartphones, as well as other intelligence-enabled products currently launched, Huawei, the large Chinese high-tech multinational, also produces and specializes in the launch of processors. Over time, we have seen a large number of these products leave this company, as well as the Kirin 810. Today, we are going to see three of the best processors of the Chinese SoC manufacturer, competing in the Kirin 985 vs Kirin 990 vs Kirin 990 5G vs Kirin 980 comparison.
Note: We are comparing both the 5G and non-5G variant of Kirin 990 SoC. The difference is in the GPU frequency, AI and networking.
At the time of talking about the release dates of these three processors, it is necessary to highlight something very interesting, and that is that the Kirin 985 has not yet been officially released to the market, since this will happen on April 23 of this year, within a few days. Having said that, the other two processors are already available, with the Kirin 990 and 990 5G released on October 24, 2019, and the Kirin 980 released on August 31, 2018. Moreover, the new Kirin 985 has been advertised as a high-performance SoC which is better than Kirin 980 and slower than Kirin 990 / 990 5G.
First off let us start with the process technology which determines the power consumption and performance of the SoC. Keep in mind the lower the number the better is the performance as well as battery life efficiency. As mentioned above, the Kirin 985 has not yet been released, although some of its features are known, as well as its process. Like last year, this processor will be manufactured in a 7nm process, although in this case it is expected that the EUV process will be used. This will help your production to be more accurate, which will result in reduced production time, in addition to your costs.
Now, talking about Kirin 980, it was the first 7nm FF+ TSMC AI processor which was released in 2018 in the Android camp.
Kirin 990 uses the same process as Kirin 980 which is 7nm FF+ TSMC. However, the Kirin 990 5G uses the similar process to the new Kirin 985 which is 7nm LPE EUV process.
Now, we should note that the 7nm LPE EUV process allows 10 billion transistors (10.3 billion transistors) on a board area which is 36% less compared to the previous generation.
However, remember that the EUV process allows more space on-board, however, the power efficiency gap between the second and third 7nm generations isn’t that much and one can’t even see this gap on the actual test. Having said that, a smaller SoC will provide more space to install more components in the motherboard, which is an advantage here.
It is time to start this great comparison of processors, and we will start talking about the CPUs that are inside. Starting with the Kirin 985, and while some of its specifications are not yet known, as this is the case, it is said that it will have a system of three core clusters, so it could have a Cortex A76 core running at a speed of 2.58GHz up-front of everything. The second cluster would be three Cortex A76 cores at a speed of 2.4GHz clock speed and would shut down with four Cortex A55 cores at a speed of 1.84GHz for less demanding tasks.
That being said, the Kirin 990 and 990 5G uses an octa-core design (2+2+4) with a tri-cluster layout similar to the Kirin 980. Diving into the core distribution, there are 2 x high-end Cortex A76 running at a speed of 2.86GHz, 2 x mid-end Cortex A76 with lower frequency running at a speed of 2.09GHz and 4 x Cortex A55 power-efficient cores running at a speed of 1.86GHz.
Meanwhile, the Kirin 980 is presented with a 7nm TSMC technology and an octa-core configuration in tri-clusters 2 + 2 + 4. There are 2 Cortex A76 cores, which work at a speed of 2.6GHz with one of the latest ARM lithographs; 2 other Cortex A76 cores, this time at a speed of 1.92GHz, are essential for energy-saving or less demanding tasks; and finally, we have 4 Cortex A55 cores at a speed of 1.8GHz which are low-powered.
Looking at the core configuration, let’s not compare the low-performance cores since all of them have 4 Cortex A55 cores with almost the same frequency (990>5G>985>980). Moving to the high-performance core we would have this sort of performance on high-load (990/5G>985>980) again. Why? Even if the Kirin 985 has only one high-core which a frequency slightly less than the Kirin 980, however, under high load all of the cores will be running, and looking at the mid-performance cores, Kirin 985 has more cores and a much higher frequency (almost 400 MHz higher) than the other two SoCs. Kirin 985 might not be able to Kirin 990 because of the high-performance cores frequency gap. But the overall performance difference will be not that much, and even in normal scenarios and mid-performance demanding tasks, Kirin 985 will prove much faster than Kirin 990 and 990 5 since the mid-performance cores are relatively large in both number and frequency. Taking about the internal competition between Kirin 990 and 990 5G, Kirin 990 5G will perform slightly better overtime under high load due to the EUV process.
So, in terms of raw performance and high-load like gaming Kirin 990/5G will be the winner, and under normal and mid-end load (multiple browsing, multimedia) Kirin 985 will be the winner.
Turning to talk about the GPUs that are inside these two powerful processors. In terms of GPU performance, there is still no official information on the Kirin 985, but it is said that it will not have many changes and that it will be very similar to the GPU present in the Kirin 980 and Kirin 990, which premiered the Mali-G76 GPU as the first manufacturer to assemble it. This GPU improved the performance of graphics execution, with an increase in performance of 46% and an energy efficiency of 178% compared to other generations of chipsets.
The only difference is in terms of cores and frequency.
As we can see, the GPU of the Kirin 980 and Kirin 990 is the same, although the 990 has a little more power due to the 16 extra cores it brings, and the 5G variant has a frequency boost of 100 MHz so it wins first place in this category because we don’t have the exact Kirin 985 GPU cores and frequency, but we believe that according to its positioning and numbering, it will have 12 or 14 cores and the same frequency, it will be better than Kirin 980 and less powerful than Kirin 990 and Kirin 990 5G.
Going on to talk a bit about this point, we are first going to talk about its AI Benchmark, where the Kirin 985 positioned itself in a very high position, obtaining the third place, a little after the Kirin 990 5G variant. In this place, 985 scored 50,926, while 990 scored higher than 70,000. Continuing with AnTuTu, the Kirin 990 processor scored a total of 457,357 points, the Kirin 985 scored a total of 413,621 points and finally, the Kirin 980 scored a total of 356,918 points.
Kirin 980 uses the old NPU (2 x Cambricon). For Kirin 985, we have 2 big cores of the famous Da Vinci NPU.
Huawei has used its famous DaVinci NPU in Kirin 990 and Kirin 990 5G which was first used in Kirin 810. This processor has a unique Big+Small NPU configuration better than Kirin 810’s dual NPU configuration. The Small NPUs are for always-on applications and Big NPUs will handle high workloads. That being said, we must remember that in the Kirin 990 5G there’s tri NPU (2 big + 1 small), meanwhile, Kirin 990 only has one big core and one small core (Dual NPU) of the DaVinci NPU.
It is confirmed that the Kirin 985 will be manufactured with 5G connectivity and thus, little by little, Huawei begins to emerge to be one of the manufacturers to fear in the face of this new 2020. For Kirin 990, Huawei decides to stick with the 4G networking which gives up to 1.6Gbps Download speed with 5CA and 4x4MIMO. Sub 6-GHz is a much common approach used in Asia and Europe right now and the integrated 5G in Kirin 990 5G supports it.
That being said, Kirin 980 is the first to support LTE Cat.21, which in turn supports the fastest 1.4Gbps downlink and offers a stable connection in congested areas such as the subway or high-speed trains. With Hi1103, it supports a theoretical maximum download speed of 1.7 Gbps and a bandwidth of 160 MHz, which exceeds 1.7 times the industry level. Also, GPS is backed by industry-leading L1 + L5 dual frequency ultra-precise positioning to further pinpoint your desired location when using map navigation, even in rough terrain.
Uplink: 200 Mbps
Finally, to see what is the best option among these processors at the budget level, we have to know the price of the phones they are on. The Kirin 985 is said to be found inside the Honor 30, which while not officially priced, could have a cost very similar to the Honor 20, which had a launch price of $545, so there shouldn’t be much difference. If this price comes true, then the Kirin 980 present in the Huawei Mate 20 comes with a price of $646 and, lastly, and being the most expensive, the Kirin 990 and Kirin 990 5G come in the Huawei Mate 30 series, which has a price that is around the $1,200.
Concluding this Kirin 985 vs Kirin 990 vs Kirin 990 5G vs Kirin 980 comparison, we must say that it depends on the user to select the processor that best suits its needs. That being said, and guided by this comparison, it can be seen that the Kirin 990 5G works better than the 980 and Kirin 990, winning this battle. About the Kirin 985, and although it can be seen that it has very similar specifications to the rest of the processors, it has not yet been officially released to the market.
The performance of the GPU and CPU will be in this arrangement:
In terms of AI and networking:
We hope you loved our comparison. Want to know anything? Let us know in the comments!