Huawei launches Kirin 970 chipset with dedicated neural processor


Chinese smartphone maker Huawei Technologies unveiled its first artificial intelligent smartphone chipset on Saturday as it gears up to compete against the much anticipated launch of a new class of iPhones.

Huawei says that as numerous existing systems rely on artificial intelligence based in the cloud - so not housed on a smartphone itself - small pieces of time can be lost as data is sent up to the cloud, processed and then sent back down again. And on-device AI can now partner with cloud-based AI - where your mobile device communicates with powerful cloud-based AI processors to give you more oomph for data interpretation and execution.

This has been confirmed by Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Ground at the event. "Mobile AI = On-Device AI + Cloud AI". This whole unit is known as a Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which is smart enough to optimize users device to offers great processing speed and provide best thermal/power efficiency.

As such, Huawei's upcoming devices are likely to be positioned to rival Apple's iPhone 8, Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the Essential Phone. Built using a 10nm advanced process, the chipset fits some 5.5bn transistors into an area of one cm².

Huawei has said that the Kirin 970 chip will allow for 50% longer battery life on phones. In image recognition testing, the chipset was able to process 2,000 images per minute which Huawei claims is faster than other chips on the market. Among the many applications it could potentially have, Huawei highlighted the photo abilities of the Kirin 970. ARM's processor designs, such as the Cortex-A73 launched past year, are the most widely used architecture in mobile devices.

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The firm has announced that its next smartphone, the Mate 10, will come with its own Kirin 970 chipset with AI processing capabilities - marking the first time a Neural Processing Unit has been used in a smartphone. The CPU's sole goal is to grab Apple's fan base attention and lure it to Huawei's side.

The chipset contains an octa-core CPU and a 12-core GPU.

Huawei is taking mobile processing to a whole new level.

Huawei will launch the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro on 16 October in Munich.