Today, at IFA 2019, Huawei released two high-end SoCs known as Kirin 990 (non-5G) and Kirin 990 5G. A couple of days back Samsung released Exynos 980 5G SoC and a month before Exynos 9825 (non-5G). Let’s compare all these SoCs in this Kirin 990 Vs 990 5G Vs Exynos 9825 Vs 980 SoCs battle and find out which one is the ultimate SoC:
Let’s start the comparison with the process technology which determines the power consumption and performance of the SoC. Remember the lower the number the better is the performance and efficient power consumption.
The new Kirin 990 uses the 7nm process similar to the previous generation which is Kirin 980. However, this is not the case with Kirin 990 5G which uses the latest 7nm+ EUV process. It’s slightly better than the standard 7nm EUV because Kirin 990 5G is the first SoC to feature above 10 billion transistors (10.3 billion transistors) but on a board area which is 36% less compared to the previous generation. This saves manufacturers some space in their flagships now.
Samsung Exynos 980 is manufactured in the same process as Exynos 9820 which is 8nm. For Exynos 9825, it’s the world’s first SoC with 7nm EUV process. According to Samsung:
EUV allows to leverage extreme ultraviolet wavelengths to print finer circuits and develop a faster and more power efficient processor.
It’s confusing as Exynos 980 is a better SoC than Exynos 9825 targetted for 5G, however, still, Samsung decides to use an 8nm process on it. Meanwhile, Kirin intelligently provides 7nm to the non-5G SoC and 7nm+ EUV to the 5G version SoC making clear that 5G SoCs are better than the 4G ones. If we compare Exynos 9825 and Kirin 990 5G both use 7nm EUV but Kirin 990 is slightly better because of more transistors it is carrying on less space. Plus, it’s the world’s first 7nm EUV 5G SoC.
Heading to the CPU section and frequency, the newly announced Kirin 990 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 @2.86GHz, 2 x mid-end Cortex-A76 with lower frequency @2.09GHz and 4 x Cortex-A55 power-efficient cores running @1.86GHz.
The Kirin 990 5G has also the same octa-core design and core distribution, however, with higher frequency to the mid and lower cores. To be specific, there are 2 x mid-end Cortex-A76 with frequency @2.36GHz and 4 x Cortex-A55 power-efficient cores running @1.95GHz. The upper core is the same as the non 5G SoC.
The 5G SoC Exynos 980 features an octa-core design (2 + 6). It’s the second processor to feature the new Cortex A77 core. Getting into the details, we have 2 x Cortex-A77 cores running @2.2GHz which are upper, and 6x Cortex-A55 cores running at @1.8GHz, which are low-performance cores.
When it comes to Exynos 9825, the process might be the latest, however, the CPU cores are not. It competes with the current SD 855 Plus, and Kirin 980. The processor has an octa-design (2+2+4), where there are 2x customized Mangoose (M4) cores running @ 2.73 GHz, 2 x Cortex A75 running @ 2.4 GHz and 4x Cortex A55 running @ 1.9 GHz.
Well, indeed, Kirin 990 5G doesn’t have any Cortex A77 core which is weird considering that the core was specifically built for 5G. Meanwhile, Exynos 980 takes advantage of two Cortex A77, but the frequency distribution of that core is much lower than the high cores of Cortex-A76 found in Exynos 980 and Kirin 990. Huawei has two reasons not to use the Cortex A77 core in Kirin 990 SoCs:
Kirin 990 with its older Cortex-A76 cores clocked at 2.86Ghz can get a 10% higher performance than those Cortex-A77 cores which makes Kirin 990 5G the winner.
It’s said to see Kirin 990 and Kirin 990 5G still on the ARM Mali-G76 MC/MP16, however, this time with 16-cores to enhance the gaming performance. However, remember this that the more cores will generate more heat and consume more power and since the GPU has not been upgraded to Mali-G77 which offers better process and power management. However, with Kirin Gaming+ 2.0 software combined, the performance is increased by 30% while optimizing energy efficiency by 46% compared to the previous generation. We already know how good Huawei is with hardware-software optimizations. For not using Mali-G77, Huawei said:
We could not find enough space to use a G77 GPU which is much efficient with Cortex-A77
Exynos 980 has ARM Mali-G76 MP5 but with only 5 cores in comparison to the Exynos 9820 and 9825’s GPU (ARM Mali-G76 MP12) which have 12 cores.
All of the four SoCs uses the ARM developed GPU. However, Kirin 990 and 990 5G are on the lead because of the addition of 4 more cores exceeding the Snapdragon’s Adreno 640 by 6% in terms of performance and 20% in terms of power efficiency.
Since, its the AI era, all three SoCs features an integrated NPU. Exynos 980’s NPU offers 2.7x AI processing similar to Exynos 9825. Samsung SoCs aren’t that much towards AI performance at the moment as Kirin and MediaTek.
Huawei has used its famous DaVinci NPU in Kirin 990 which were first used in Kirin 810. The Kirin 990 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. We must remember that in the Kirin 990 5G there’s tri NPU (2 big + 1 small) in comparison to Kirin 990 4G (1 big + 1 small). So the winner is:
Kirin 990 5G has a peak download speed up to 2.3Gbps and upload speed up to 1.25Gbps. It’s the first integrated SoC to support both SA and NSA networks based on sub-6GHz. Sadly, we don’t see mmWave support in it as Huawei is banned in the US.
Meanwhile, for the standard Kirin 990, Huawei decides to stick with the 4G networking which gives up to 1.6Gbps Download speed with 5CA and 4x4MIMO.
Exynos 9825 has an external 5G modem which is Exynos Modem 5100 to run the 5G network. However, like Kirin 990 5G, Exynos 980 has an integrated 5G modem.
Exynos 980’s Sub-6GHz speed is 2.55Gbps (Downloading) and 1.28Gbps (Uploading). Moreover, the 4G speed is up to 1Gbps in 4G and 3.55Gbps in dual mode. Exynos 9825’s Sub-6GHz and 6GHz has a downloading speed of 2Gbps and upload speed of 316Mbps. It does support dual 5G + 4G LTE mode. Because of better speed and support to mmWave, Exynos 980 takes the lead here.
Exynos 980 also features a better ISP, WiFi and promotes HDR 10+ than the Exynos 9825, Kirin 990. It allows features the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, IEEE 802.11ax. Meanwhile, the remaining SoCs relies on WiFi 5 standard, IEEE 802.11ac.
Huawei mostly provides much cheaper smartphones than Samsung in the high-end category. The examples are the upcoming Huawei Mate 30 series comparison with Galaxy Note 10 series. Kirin SoCs are used in Huawei phones specifically, meanwhile, Exynos SoCs are used in Samsung phones. Similar to the price difference between a Samsung flagship phone vs Huawei flagship phone, Kirin 990 series will be cheaper than Exynos 980 and 9825. Between Kirin 990 and Kirin 990 5G, 5G chips and phones are much expensive than the 4G ones since it’s the start of 5G, so we can expect the standard Kirin 990 the cheapest among these.
It’s sad to see that only Exynos 980 was the only one on the list to use the Cortex A77. However, if Huawei is speaking the truth, then there’s no advantage of A77 on 7nm process and Exynos 980 is on the 8nm with much lower frequency. This leaves us to Exynos 9825 which has better performance than both Kirin 990 and Exynos 980 but not better than Kirin 990 5G since both are on the same process and Kirin 990 5G has better performance per area. Moreover, the importance of 5G networking can’t be neglected as well and so the pricing. Let’s just wait for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 before deciding to buy a smartphone incorporating these SoCs.
Hope you liked the comparison. Need to know anything regarding these SoCs, let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to rate the comparison in the box below.
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