On Saturday, Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu took the stage at IFA in Berlin to introduce their new Kirin 970 system on a chip (SoC). The “world’s first mobile AI computing platform with dedicated NPU” will make its formal debut on October 16, when the Huawei Mate 10 launches with the chip powering it.
The executive emphasized the platform’s capabilities to deal with heavy data workloads on-device, instead of relying on machine learning models connected to the cloud like the rest of the competition. Among the many applications it could potentially have, Huawei highlighted the photo abilities of the Kirin 970.
This next-gen system is just as interesting as the device it will first be available in, the latest smartphone in Huawei’s Mate series. The upcoming phone will reportedly have a full display on the front panel with no bezels, according to teaser images showcased at IFA.
Huawei Kirin 970: all you need to know
While the promo video certainly makes it look like something out of a sci-fi movie, the Kirin 970 is not that terrifying; and it is all-around better because it is real. It will even be on phones debuting as soon as next month, so here is what you need to know.
The 1 cm² chip will have three units: an octa-core CPU, a 12-core GPU, and a dedicated NPU, which stands for neural processing unit. This module will be the one that handles on-device AI tasks, rivaling the power of Apple’s A-Series chips and Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragons.
On paper, this doesn’t sound like much, but Huawei brought some practical examples to help us get a better grasp of what this could mean. A phone packing one of these chips would be able to process 2,000 images per minute, more than any other mobile device currently in the market.
Huawei’s dual ISPs (image signal processors) also play a role in putting machine learning to good use. Users of next-gen company phones can say goodbye to blurred photos, missed moments, low-light settings and out-of-focus images altogether.
— Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) September 2, 2017
The Huawei Mate 10 will flaunt the Kirin 970’s power
In other situations, the NPU of the Kirin 970 will automatically enhance device performance in other areas while consuming fewer resources. Things like this could potentially lead to a more seamless interface experience, something that Huawei could use to develop smart assistants like Google and Apple.
But people won’t have to wait long to judge what this new chip can do. The Huawei Mate 10 will be revealed in Munich next October 16, and it will usher in a new generation of smartphones that combine cloud and internal AI features.
The Chinese giant is opening up the Kirin 970 ecosystem to allow developers to create their own applications and experiences with the power they can harness from the chip and the digital platform. It will surely be interesting to see how others react, or not, to this threat.