Huawei Kirin 980 SoC with Snapdragon 845 comparisons

Huawei Kirin 980 announced at IFA 2018, in Berlin.

Huawei chose IFA 2018 to officially announce their new flagship system on chip (SoC) that will be available on the new Mate 20 phones.

The Kirin 980 brings in some impressive improvements when compared with the current 970. During the keynote briefing, the company made some interesting comparisons between the new Kirin 980 and the Snapdragon 845.

Kirin 980 SoC announced

Kirin 980 specification headlines

kirin 980 ifa 2018
  • The world’s first 7nm SoC
  • Cortex A76-Based 8-core CPU
  • 2 big cores running an A76 at 2.6Ghz 2 medium cores running at 1.92Ghz
  • Dual NPU Dual Image Signal Processor
  • Mali G76 GPU
  • 4Gbps Cat.21 modem
  • 2133Mhz DDR4

7nm SoC featuring Cortex A76

kirin 908 ifa 2018

The new SoC is fabricated on a 7nm process meaning more transistors per mm. The upshot is that the chip to runs faster while being more power efficient. Huawei claims that this has a 75% performance increase from the 10nm 970 and a 58% power efficiency increase.

The Kirin 980 is an octocore chip containing 2 high powered cores, 2 medium cores and then 4 small cores. The first pair is for “turbo” performance, two are for long-term performance, and finally, the last and smallest four are used to maximise power efficiency when not much is going on.

kirin 980 ifa 2018

This is a layout that has been common for a while. However, the new Kirin 980 has advanced features to delegate specific tasks to specific cores. Furthermore, when this then combined with AI load prediction, the system will learn your habits and predict when the phone needs more or less power. Using this AI power balancing the SoC is capable of saving as much energy as possible while reducing issues with lag.

Mali G76 GPU

Mali G76 GPU Kirin 980 IFA 2018

This is the first SoC to feature the Mali G76 GPU. Here we have a 46% improvement from the previous generation while also being 22% more powerful than the GPU in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845.

What is more impressive is the power efficiency improvement, it is claimed that the new GPU is 178% more power efficient than the previous generation. Also, we were told that it requires 32% less power than the Snapdragon 845.


The CPU and GPU are then complemented with the fastest DDR4 RAM on the market running at 2133Mhz. This team hands the phone 20% more bandwidth and 22% less latency than the Snapdragon 845.

The real world performance differences mean faster app load times; for example, Facebook now loads in 1 second compared to 1.3 seconds.

Dual ISP

The SoC now features a dual Image Signal Processor. Improvements over a single ISP includes a 46% camera processing speed improvement, 23% reduction in recording power and a 33% reduction in recording latency.

Dual NPU

The AI features have a similar improvement with a dual neural processing unit (NPU). One example given is that the SoC can now recognise 4500 images per minute compared to 2371 found on the Snapdragon whereas Apple’s A11, which enjoys performance leads in other categories, gets only 1,458.

Balong 5000 Cat.21 modem

balong 5000 modem kirin 980 ifa 2018

The modem of the 980 has also been improved. Cellular is now possible at 1.4Gbps using cat 21 and significant improvements with the reliability of data on metro or rail journeys. Smooth data streaming is apparently ten times more reliable than the Snapdragon. A big deal was also made over the fact that the modem is 5G ready.

kirin 980 ifa 2018


Huawei will be using the new chip in the Mate 20, as well as Honor, with the Magic 2. The devices will appear by the end of the year.