Huawei has announced the Kirin 970 processor, a new generation of hyper-fast mobile chips with a key new feature: A Neural Processing Unit (NPU). It’s key because it drives the Kirin 970’s mobile artificial intelligence platform, which will enable cloud-based AI and on-device AI to run alongside each other, faster than ever before.
CEO Richard Yu’s keynote address at the IFA 2017, revealed the company’s vision for the future of artificial intelligence with the launch of the Kirin 970. By combining the power of the cloud with the speed and responsiveness of native AI processing, Huawei is set to bring AI experiences to life.
While AI is most often associated with virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant, Huawei hasn’t launched an assistant of its own yet and is staying quiet about how we’ll eventually use it. Instead, it’s demonstrating the NPU’s super speedy image recognition.
Kirin 970 is powered by an 8-core CPU and a new generation 12-core GPU. Built using a 10nm advanced process, the chipset packs 5.5 billion transistors into an area of only one cm².
Compared to a quad-core Cortex-A73 CPU cluster, the Kirin 970’s new heterogeneous computing architecture delivers up to 25x the performance with 50x greater efficiency. Simply put, the Kirin 970 can perform the same AI computing tasks faster and with far less power. In a benchmark image recognition test, the Kirin 970 processed 2,000 images per minute, which was faster than other chips on the market.
“Huawei is committed to developing smart devices into intelligent devices by building end-to-end capabilities that support coordinated development of chips, devices, and the cloud,” Yu said.
“The ultimate goal is to provide a significantly better user experience. The Kirin 970 is the first in a series of new advances that will bring powerful AI features to our devices and take them beyond the competition.”
The Kirin 970 announcement follows Huawei last month saying AI would play a critical role in driving smartphone innovation.
Huawei will launch the Mate 10 and its sister phone, the Mate 10 Pro, in Munich on October 16, Yu confirmed. He declined to detail new features, but the phones are expected to boast large, 6-inch-plus full-screen displays, tech blogs predict. Artificial intelligence (AI) built into its new chips can help make phones more personalised, or anticipate the actions and interests of their users, Yu said.
He also explained that AI can enable real-time language translation, heed voice commands, or take advantage of augmented reality, which overlays text, sounds, graphics and video on real-world images phone users see in front of them.