At its IFA 2019 conference, Huawei announced the Kirin 990 and Kirin 990 5G chipsets. The latter is based on the 7nm+ EUV fabrication process while the Kirin 990 is based on the 7nm fab process – same as the Kirin 980 from last year.
As the naming scheme makes it clear, the Kirin 990 comes in two variants: one with 5G and one without. This will help the company keep the cost low in regions where 5G networks are not available.
There are a few differences between the two apart from 5G connectivity as well. Both Kirin 990 chips feature support for LPDDR4 RAM, Mali-G76MP16 clocked at 700MHz, and an octa-core CPU configuration.
On the Kirin 980 5G, the 2x medium CPU cores are clocked at 2.36GHz while on the 4G variant, they are running at 2.09GHz. The 4x smaller Cortex-A55 cores are clocked at 1.95GHz on the Kirin 980 5G. On the 4G chip, the smaller cores are running at 1.86GHz. The 2x Cortex-A76 cores are running at 2.86GHz on both chips.
The Kirin 980 5G variant comes with a 2+1 Da Vinci NPU configuration, while the 4G Kirin 980 features 1+1 NPUs.
In terms of performance, Huawei claims the Kirin 980 5G offers up to 10% increase in single-threaded performance and up to 9% in multi-core benchmarks. Power efficiency has also increased across the board with the middle A76 cores now up to 35% more efficient and the high-power A76 cores 12% more efficient.
The new 2+1 NPU on the Kirin 980 5G offers just about 2x performance improvement over the A12 Bionic chip from Apple.
The new ISP on the Kirin 990 chip offers better low-light imaging performance and better noise reduction while recording videos.
The Kirin 980 will likely power the Mate 30 series which Huawei is scheduled to announce on September 19. It is possible that the Kirin 980 5G will only be limited to the 5G variant of the Huawei Mate 30 Pro.