Despite US pressure Huawei 7nm processors address 5G

September 09, 2019 //By Peter Clarke
Despite US pressure Huawei 7nm processors address 5G
Huawei has created two Kirin chips to address 5G communications, the Kirin 990 for use with a separate 5G modem and the Kirin 990 5G with an integrated 5G modem. These are expected to be deployed in Huawei's upcoming Mate 30 and Honor Vera30 mobile phones.

What remains uncertain is what operating system will be offered on the Mate 30 as Google and Android have removed support for Huawei under a US trade ban. But in terms of hardware Huawei's chip design subsidiary HiSilicon and its foundry TSMC continue to create world-leading silicon.

The Kirin 990 is crafted using a 7nm manufacturing process from TSMC while the the 5G version is crafted using the 7nm+ process, where critical layers are defined using extreme ultraviolet lithography.

The Kirin 990 5G, with 10.3 billion transistors is a significant step up from the Kirin 980 with 6.9 billion transistors and the Kirin 970 with 5.5 billion transistors.

The Kirin 990 5G includes the Balong modem block and supports a download speed of 2.3Gbps in the sub-6GHz band and a peak upload of 1.25GHz, which is slightly behind the 5G capable Exynos 980 recently announced by Samsung (see Samsung announces 5G-capable Exynos processor).

In terms of processing performance the octa-core  Kirin 990 is capable of a 20 percent improvement in overall performance and 30 percent enhancement in energy efficiency when compared to the Kirin 980 (see China claims 7nm chip lead with Kirin 980), the company claims. Reportedly this is achieved by the combination of two big cores, two medium cores and four small cores, the same approach as used on the 980.

Huawei does not refer explicitly to the cores, possibly due to the fact that it has ceased to receive direct support from processor licensor ARM under the US ban on trade (see Report: ARM complies with US trade ban, cuts off Huawei).

Next: Same cores?

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