Huawei wants to go big on AI with its Kirin 970 SOC

  • Chipset to be pushed to top-line devices; boasts AI smarts for enhanced photography, voice calling
  • Huawei Mate 10 to be first device to implement the chipset


Huawei wants to go big on AI with its Kirin 970 SOC


THE term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ or AI has been thrown about so commonly and according to Gartner, AI is one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017. It is no big secret that Huawei has big ambitions for AI and wants to corner the market of mobile AI.

During IFA 2017 in Berlin, Huawei’s chief executive officer Richard Yu announced the company’s first mobile AI computing platform, the Kirin 970. Developed in-house by Huawei’s chip manufacturer, Hisilicon the Kirin 970 is said to be a System on Chip (SOC) that is embedded with AI and is set to be pushed out to its high-end smartphones.

At a media briefing session in Huawei’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Huawei’s wireless terminal chipset business unit product marketing director Eric Zhou (pic) gave a deep dive session about the company’s latest chip.

Zhou explained that the Kirin 970 uses a processor called a Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU) in addition to a CPU and NPU. The three processors work together with all AI-related computing being handled by NPU alone, resulting in less workload on the CPU.

Essentially an artificial brain that combines a CPU and GPU together, Huawei claims that it would provide 25x greater performance of a standard CPU while consuming just 1/50th the power. Even more impressive is the fact that the NPU is said to be half the size of a CPU.

With all this talk of power, what exactly are the benefits that we can come to expect from the Kirin 970? Zhou broke it down into four main key areas that the new chipset would be able to enhance the user experience.

The first is provide faster connectivity. Being a networking and telecommunications company Huawei prides itself in delivering optimal communication. It achieves this by way of developing its own LTE Cat. 18 module that is claimed to provide a max data rate of 1.2Gbits/s.

Another area that new processor is set to benefit users is by providing more powerful computing capabilities as it brings together the CPU, GPU and NPU to drive stronger performance.

The use of AI to understand both audio and visual is crucial in the Kirin 970, claimed to be able to better snap photos at the right opportune moment and cancel out noise in busy environments for conversations to be heard more clearly.

Lastly, Huawei said it expects greater efficiency of the chipset to drive longer and better battery performance

These are definitely some impressive claims made by Huawei but we will have to wait and see when the company releases its next flagship device the Huawei Mate 10 which will use the Kirin 970 chipset sometime in October 2017.


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