Tag Archives: Soc

Arm TechCon 2018 Keynote Live Blog (Starts at 1pm ET)

We're here at the San Jose Convention Center for Arm's annual developer conference and tech showcase, TechCon. Arm of course needs no introduction, and while the company is an IP provider rather than a hardware manufacturer, the net result is that they have their finger in everything from servers to embedded devices. Which has presented the company with a lot of growth opportunities, but also no shortage of competition as everyone works to grab a piece of these markets.

IFA 2018: Huawei Kirin 980 Keynote Live Blog

Our big keynote of the IFA 2018 show is from Huawei, with CEO Richard Yu set to take the stage and detail the newest Kirin 980 chipset for us. There's no livestream, so sit back and read as the information flows in.

Huawei To Announce Kirin 980 Today at IFA

In the smartphone wars, the chip inside powering the devices is becoming ever more important. Raw performance plus accelerators are pushing the boundaries of what we used to think was possible. Huawei’s unique selling point is that it designs its own chips for its smartphones, based a lot on Arm’s reference cores. Today, Huawei will be announcing its next generation SoC to the world.

As proudly declared on stage at the Honor launch event yesterday, with Honor’s own upcoming Magic 2 smartphone having it inside, Honor’s CEO George Zhao proudly declared that Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei CBG, will be announcing the Kirin 980 today.

Huawei’s current flagship SoC is the Kirin 970, which sits inside the Mate 10, P20, P20 Pro, and Honor’s Play, Honor 10, and Honor View 10. All of Huawei’s chips are made by their internal design house, HiSilicon, and the Kirin 970 was announced last year at IFA, so it makes sense that this year we would see the next generation, the Kirin 980, around this time.

Huawei has a long tradition of being a primary Arm partner, often using its latest design options where possible to get the edge of the competition. The Kirin 980, as with the silicon before it, aims for the highest echelons of performance in order to set it apart from the competition. You can also expect the Kirin 980 to be promoted alongside Huawei’s other ‘features’, such as GPU Turbo.

As for the internals of the Kirin 980, Huawei rarely disappoints on this front, but everyone will have to stay tuned for the official announcement to see just what's in store for their new SoC.

HiSilicon High-End Kirin SoC Lineup
SoC Kirin 980 Kirin 970 Kirin 960
CPU POWER* 4x A73 @ 2.36 GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84 GHz
4x A73 @ 2.36GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84GHz
GPU TURBO* ARM Mali-G72MP12
746 MHz
ARM Mali-G71MP8
1037MHz
LPDDR4
Memory
SOME* 4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1833 MHz
29.9GB/s
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1866MHz
29.9GB/s
Interconnect YES ARM CCI ARM CCI-550
Storage I/F  NO DOUBT* UFS 2.1 UFS 2.1
ISP/Camera SMILE* Dual 14-bit ISP Dual 14-bit ISP
(Improved)
Encode/Decode FAST* 2160p60 Decode
2160p30 Encode
2160p30 HEVC & H.264
Decode & Encode

2160p60 HEVC
Decode

Integrated Modem IF YOU INSIST* Kirin 970 Integrated LTE
(Category 18/13)

DL = 1200 Mbps
5x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 150 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Kirin 960 Integrated LTE
(Category 12/13)

DL = 600Mbps
4x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Sensor Hub AFFIRMATIVE* i7 i6
NPU 8-BALL SAYS YES* Yes No
Mfc. Process ??? TSMC 10nm TSMC 16nm FFC
*May be subject to change

Huawei's keynote is today at 2pm CEST (8am ET), which will be live blogged if the data allows. It's going to be a lot of fun. Stay tuned.

Related Reading

Huawei To Announce Kirin 980 Today at IFA

In the smartphone wars, the chip inside powering the devices is becoming ever more important. Raw performance plus accelerators are pushing the boundaries of what we used to think was possible. Huawei’s unique selling point is that it designs its own chips for its smartphones, based a lot on Arm’s reference cores. Today, Huawei will be announcing its next generation SoC to the world.

As proudly declared on stage at the Honor launch event yesterday, with Honor’s own upcoming Magic 2 smartphone having it inside, Honor’s CEO George Zhao proudly declared that Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei CBG, will be announcing the Kirin 980 today.

Huawei’s current flagship SoC is the Kirin 970, which sits inside the Mate 10, P20, P20 Pro, and Honor’s Play, Honor 10, and Honor View 10. All of Huawei’s chips are made by their internal design house, HiSilicon, and the Kirin 970 was announced last year at IFA, so it makes sense that this year we would see the next generation, the Kirin 980, around this time.

Huawei has a long tradition of being a primary Arm partner, often using its latest design options where possible to get the edge of the competition. The Kirin 980, as with the silicon before it, aims for the highest echelons of performance in order to set it apart from the competition. You can also expect the Kirin 980 to be promoted alongside Huawei’s other ‘features’, such as GPU Turbo.

As for the internals of the Kirin 980, Huawei rarely disappoints on this front, but everyone will have to stay tuned for the official announcement to see just what's in store for their new SoC.

HiSilicon High-End Kirin SoC Lineup
SoC Kirin 980 Kirin 970 Kirin 960
CPU POWER* 4x A73 @ 2.36 GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84 GHz
4x A73 @ 2.36GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84GHz
GPU TURBO* ARM Mali-G72MP12
746 MHz
ARM Mali-G71MP8
1037MHz
LPDDR4
Memory
SOME* 4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1833 MHz
29.9GB/s
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1866MHz
29.9GB/s
Interconnect YES ARM CCI ARM CCI-550
Storage I/F  NO DOUBT* UFS 2.1 UFS 2.1
ISP/Camera SMILE* Dual 14-bit ISP Dual 14-bit ISP
(Improved)
Encode/Decode FAST* 2160p60 Decode
2160p30 Encode
2160p30 HEVC & H.264
Decode & Encode

2160p60 HEVC
Decode

Integrated Modem IF YOU INSIST* Kirin 970 Integrated LTE
(Category 18/13)

DL = 1200 Mbps
5x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 150 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Kirin 960 Integrated LTE
(Category 12/13)

DL = 600Mbps
4x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Sensor Hub AFFIRMATIVE* i7 i6
NPU 8-BALL SAYS YES* Yes No
Mfc. Process ??? TSMC 10nm TSMC 16nm FFC
*May be subject to change

Huawei's keynote is today at 2pm CEST (8am ET), which will be live blogged if the data allows. It's going to be a lot of fun. Stay tuned.

Related Reading

Huawei To Announce Kirin 980 Today at IFA

In the smartphone wars, the chip inside powering the devices is becoming ever more important. Raw performance plus accelerators are pushing the boundaries of what we used to think was possible. Huawei’s unique selling point is that it designs its own chips for its smartphones, based a lot on Arm’s reference cores. Today, Huawei will be announcing its next generation SoC to the world.

As proudly declared on stage at the Honor launch event yesterday, with Honor’s own upcoming Magic 2 smartphone having it inside, Honor’s CEO George Zhao proudly declared that Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei CBG, will be announcing the Kirin 980 today.

Huawei’s current flagship SoC is the Kirin 970, which sits inside the Mate 10, P20, P20 Pro, and Honor’s Play, Honor 10, and Honor View 10. All of Huawei’s chips are made by their internal design house, HiSilicon, and the Kirin 970 was announced last year at IFA, so it makes sense that this year we would see the next generation, the Kirin 980, around this time.

Huawei has a long tradition of being a primary Arm partner, often using its latest design options where possible to get the edge of the competition. The Kirin 980, as with the silicon before it, aims for the highest echelons of performance in order to set it apart from the competition. You can also expect the Kirin 980 to be promoted alongside Huawei’s other ‘features’, such as GPU Turbo.

As for the internals of the Kirin 980, Huawei rarely disappoints on this front, but everyone will have to stay tuned for the official announcement to see just what's in store for their new SoC.

HiSilicon High-End Kirin SoC Lineup
SoC Kirin 980 Kirin 970 Kirin 960
CPU POWER* 4x A73 @ 2.36 GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84 GHz
4x A73 @ 2.36GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84GHz
GPU TURBO* ARM Mali-G72MP12
746 MHz
ARM Mali-G71MP8
1037MHz
LPDDR4
Memory
SOME* 4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1833 MHz
29.9GB/s
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1866MHz
29.9GB/s
Interconnect YES ARM CCI ARM CCI-550
Storage I/F  NO DOUBT* UFS 2.1 UFS 2.1
ISP/Camera SMILE* Dual 14-bit ISP Dual 14-bit ISP
(Improved)
Encode/Decode FAST* 2160p60 Decode
2160p30 Encode
2160p30 HEVC & H.264
Decode & Encode

2160p60 HEVC
Decode

Integrated Modem IF YOU INSIST* Kirin 970 Integrated LTE
(Category 18/13)

DL = 1200 Mbps
5x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 150 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Kirin 960 Integrated LTE
(Category 12/13)

DL = 600Mbps
4x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Sensor Hub AFFIRMATIVE* i7 i6
NPU 8-BALL SAYS YES* Yes No
Mfc. Process ??? TSMC 10nm TSMC 16nm FFC
*May be subject to change

Huawei's keynote is today at 2pm CEST (8am ET), which will be live blogged if the data allows. It's going to be a lot of fun. Stay tuned.

Related Reading

Huawei To Announce Kirin 980 Today at IFA

In the smartphone wars, the chip inside powering the devices is becoming ever more important. Raw performance plus accelerators are pushing the boundaries of what we used to think was possible. Huawei’s unique selling point is that it designs its own chips for its smartphones, based a lot on Arm’s reference cores. Today, Huawei will be announcing its next generation SoC to the world.

As proudly declared on stage at the Honor launch event yesterday, with Honor’s own upcoming Magic 2 smartphone having it inside, Honor’s CEO George Zhao proudly declared that Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei CBG, will be announcing the Kirin 980 today.

Huawei’s current flagship SoC is the Kirin 970, which sits inside the Mate 10, P20, P20 Pro, and Honor’s Play, Honor 10, and Honor View 10. All of Huawei’s chips are made by their internal design house, HiSilicon, and the Kirin 970 was announced last year at IFA, so it makes sense that this year we would see the next generation, the Kirin 980, around this time.

Huawei has a long tradition of being a primary Arm partner, often using its latest design options where possible to get the edge of the competition. The Kirin 980, as with the silicon before it, aims for the highest echelons of performance in order to set it apart from the competition. You can also expect the Kirin 980 to be promoted alongside Huawei’s other ‘features’, such as GPU Turbo.

As for the internals of the Kirin 980, we’ve had a pre-briefing and can’t tell you much until the actual presentation. We went into a lot of detail with Huawei’s Benjamin Wang about the new chip design, and suffice to say that it follows in Huawei’s tradition to be a large number of ‘firsts’.

HiSilicon High-End Kirin SoC Lineup
SoC Kirin 980 Kirin 970 Kirin 960
CPU POWER* 4x A73 @ 2.36 GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84 GHz
4x A73 @ 2.36GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84GHz
GPU TURBO* ARM Mali-G72MP12
746 MHz
ARM Mali-G71MP8
1037MHz
LPDDR4
Memory
SOME* 4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1833 MHz
29.9GB/s
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1866MHz
29.9GB/s
Interconnect YES ARM CCI ARM CCI-550
Storage I/F  NO DOUBT* UFS 2.1 UFS 2.1
ISP/Camera SMILE* Dual 14-bit ISP Dual 14-bit ISP
(Improved)
Encode/Decode FAST* 2160p60 Decode
2160p30 Encode
2160p30 HEVC & H.264
Decode & Encode

2160p60 HEVC
Decode

Integrated Modem IF YOU INSIST* Kirin 970 Integrated LTE
(Category 18/13)

DL = 1200 Mbps
5x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 150 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Kirin 960 Integrated LTE
(Category 12/13)

DL = 600Mbps
4x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Sensor Hub AFFIRMATIVE* i7 i6
NPU 8-BALL SAYS YES* Yes No
Mfc. Process ??? TSMC 10nm TSMC 16nm FFC
*May be subject to change

Huawei's keynote is today at 2pm CEST (8am ET), which will be live blogged if the data allows. Our full Kirin 980 information reveal is half-an-hour later, at 2:30pm CEST. It's going to be a lot of fun. Stay tuned.

Related Reading

Huawei To Announce Kirin 980 Today at IFA

In the smartphone wars, the chip inside powering the devices is becoming ever more important. Raw performance plus accelerators are pushing the boundaries of what we used to think was possible. Huawei’s unique selling point is that it designs its own chips for its smartphones, based a lot on Arm’s reference cores. Today, Huawei will be announcing its next generation SoC to the world.

As proudly declared on stage at the Honor launch event yesterday, with Honor’s own upcoming Magic 2 smartphone having it inside, Honor’s CEO George Zhao proudly declared that Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei CBG, will be announcing the Kirin 980 today.

Huawei’s current flagship SoC is the Kirin 970, which sits inside the Mate 10, P20, P20 Pro, and Honor’s Play, Honor 10, and Honor View 10. All of Huawei’s chips are made by their internal design house, HiSilicon, and the Kirin 970 was announced last year at IFA, so it makes sense that this year we would see the next generation, the Kirin 980, around this time.

Huawei has a long tradition of being a primary Arm partner, often using its latest design options where possible to get the edge of the competition. The Kirin 980, as with the silicon before it, aims for the highest echelons of performance in order to set it apart from the competition. You can also expect the Kirin 980 to be promoted alongside Huawei’s other ‘features’, such as GPU Turbo.

As for the internals of the Kirin 980, Huawei rarely disappoints on this front, but everyone will have to stay tuned for the official announcement to see just what's in store for their new SoC.

HiSilicon High-End Kirin SoC Lineup
SoC Kirin 980 Kirin 970 Kirin 960
CPU POWER* 4x A73 @ 2.36 GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84 GHz
4x A73 @ 2.36GHz
4x A53 @ 1.84GHz
GPU TURBO* ARM Mali-G72MP12
746 MHz
ARM Mali-G71MP8
1037MHz
LPDDR4
Memory
SOME* 4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1833 MHz
29.9GB/s
4x 16-bit CH
LPDDR4 @ 1866MHz
29.9GB/s
Interconnect YES ARM CCI ARM CCI-550
Storage I/F  NO DOUBT* UFS 2.1 UFS 2.1
ISP/Camera SMILE* Dual 14-bit ISP Dual 14-bit ISP
(Improved)
Encode/Decode FAST* 2160p60 Decode
2160p30 Encode
2160p30 HEVC & H.264
Decode & Encode

2160p60 HEVC
Decode

Integrated Modem IF YOU INSIST* Kirin 970 Integrated LTE
(Category 18/13)

DL = 1200 Mbps
5x20MHz CA, 256-QAM

UL = 150 Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Kirin 960 Integrated LTE
(Category 12/13)

DL = 600Mbps
4x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

UL = 150Mbps
2x20MHz CA, 64-QAM

Sensor Hub AFFIRMATIVE* i7 i6
NPU 8-BALL SAYS YES* Yes No
Mfc. Process ??? TSMC 10nm TSMC 16nm FFC
*May be subject to change

Huawei's keynote is today at 2pm CEST (8am ET), which will be live blogged if the data allows. It's going to be a lot of fun. Stay tuned.

Related Reading

Hot Chips 2018: Arm’s Machine Learning Core Live Blog

Arm officially announced Project Trillium earlier this year, as a way to bring machine learning to the Arm ecosystem. As part of the trade show today, we have a presentation where Arm is going to talk about its first machine learning core. The talk is set to start at 2pm PT / 9pm UTC.

Hot Chips 2018: Xilinx 7nm ACAP Live Blog

We've covered the initial announcement of Xilinx's Project Everest before, which will be coming to market as an 'ACAP' built on 7nm. Xilinx believes that the ACAP is the future of FPGA computing. The talk is set to start at 9:45am PT / 4:45pm UTC.

Qualcomm Announces XR1 Platform: Dedicated SoC for VR/XR Headsets, Coming Late 2018

For the better part of the past few years now, Qualcomm has been making a serious and concentrated effort to establish themselves as the dominant player in the mobile VR space. And as the first generation of standalone VR headsets have come out, those efforts on both the hardware side and even more on the software/dev support side are finally paying off. Rivaled only by Samsung’s phone-based Gear VR system, if you’re using a standalone VR headset today, it’s almost certainly powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon SoC.

Now amidst the backdrop of the annual Augmented World Expo, Qualcomm is taking the next step on the hardware side of matters. This evening the mobile juggernaut is announcing their first dedicated VR/AR/XR platform/SoC, the Snapdragon XR1.

The XR1 is Qualcomm’s first purpose-built silicon for what the company is dubbing eXtended Reality devices, a catch-all term for virtual/augmented/mixed reality. The creation of the platform means that Qualcomm feels the market for standalone headsets has finally grown enough that it’s reached a point where they can justify the costs of a dedicated platform, including the silicon engineering and even more expensive developer and consumer relation campaigns that go with it. In that sense everything up until now has been the company laying the groundwork for this moment – and not that Qualcomm hasn’t been serious up until now – but this marks a significantly higher investment on their part than their efforts up until now.

The XR1 is, in turn, part of what is becoming a two-pronged strategy for Qualcomm on the XR SoC front. Qualcomm sees the mobile headset market as encompassing three markets: entry-level “cardboard” devices used with phones, “high quality” but economically priced 3DoF headsets like the Oculus Go, and then “premium quality” 6DoF headsets like the Lenovo Mirage. Of these three groups, Qualcomm intends to go after the latter two.

For the best experiences, Qualcomm will continue pushing their flagship-class (and flagship-priced) smartphone SoCs like the Snapdragon 845. However for devices like the Oculus Go and other headsets, where cost is a greater concern and vendors are okay with trading-off features to meet mass-market prices, this is the territory Qualcomm is going after with the XR1. In practice then, the XR1 is a successor-of-sorts to the Snapdragon 821 and other older SoCs that have been tapped for these first-generation headsets. It replaces relatively cheap-but-aging SoCs with even cheaper silicon purpose-built for XR headsets and headsets alone; smartphones need not apply.

As far as the XR1 SoC itself goes, today’s announcement is a bit of a mixed bag. Unfortunately Qualcomm is not disclosing the specifications of the SoC at this time – so information on the CPU cores used, GPU configuration, etc – are not going to be revealed until closer to the launch. But they are, at a high level, laying out their design and product goals with the XR1, and in the process making some confirmations about what the forthcoming SoC can and cannot do.

At a high level, the XR1 can be thought of as a stripped-down version of a traditional Snapdragon SoC, eschewing the smartphone-specific hardware such as the modem. While Qualcomm isn’t outlining the specifications of the chip, if you’re familiar with the building blocks they use for other Snapdragons then you know where this is going: a Kryo CPU block, an Adreno GPU block, a Spectra ISP block, a Hexagon DSP block, etc.

At this point I would expect all of these blocks to be based on Qualcomm’s latest-generation tech – so 600-series Adreno GPU, for example – however Qualcomm says that they are tailoring the platform’s performance for the market, and based on some off-hand comments I suspect we’re also going to see other optimizations such as a narrower memory bus. Which is to say that this isn’t going to be a SD845 with the modem taken out and nothing else. It does need to be powerful enough to deliver meaningful VR experiences, but Qualcomm is certainly looking at just how powerful – or perhaps unpowerful – a SoC needs to be for this market, in order to keep costs down.

Overall then, Qualcomm is positioning the XR1 to drive headsets up to 4K(ish) resolution, a step above the current Oculus Go (1440p) and an unsurprising fit given that their video decoder can also handle up to 4Kp60 video. And while the company’s initial examples of headsets have focused on 3DoF tracking, this is for overall device cost reasons. The XR1 platform itself can handle 6DoF tracking as well, if a headset vendor wishes to spend more to include the necessary sensors.

In my pre-briefing with Qualcomm ahead of the show, the company’s representatives also briefly spoke about power optimizations for the new platform. These are as much software as hardware, but there’s a certain realization that these devices are going to be running under heavy, sustained workloads for longer periods of time. So the burst-and-throttle nature of smartphone SoCs won’t work for XR headsets, both for battery life reasons and heat reasons. This places a pretty heavy emphasis on the XR1’s GPU block, as under sustained loads that’s likely to be the biggest consumer of power.

This also means that Qualcomm is putting a bit more focus on heterogeneous computing, and “AI” in the roughest sense. Mostly as being power efficient means that Qualcomm can’t rely on the CPU or GPU for everything, and needs to make good use of the Hexagon DSP as well. This still feels a bit like Qualcomm being in search of a nail since the hammer of the day is AI, but in talking with the company, I do have to agree to at least some extent that the restricted views of these headsets mean that there’s more opportunity for voice commands here than there has been on phones.

Overall Qualcomm’s pitch for the XR1 is rather focused on video, and for good reason. Using the Oculus Go as a template, video has certainly been the most convincing use case for that headset, in part driven by the practicalities of using the Snapdragon 821 SoC and only sporting 3DoF tracking. So for the first headsets based on the XR1, video is similarly expected to be the biggest use case.

Which is not to say that the XR1 won’t be up to the challenge of rendered VR tasks either, as Qualcomm is clearly taking efforts to make that possible without blowing their power budget. But the current state of 3D rendered VR on mobile platforms is shaky, even on flagship-class SoCs. So similar to the Oculus Go or even some of the SD835-based headsets, rendered worlds are not going to be the strongest experience of these headsets.

As for AR, it remains to be seen. The company is promising a motion-to-photon latency of under 20ms, and the company’s Spectra ISPs are nothing to sneeze at. But these does stand to be the hardest market to break into, both for headset cost reasons and because it’s the least well developed in terms of consumer use cases. Not to mention VR-with-cameras will be going up against projected overlay technology ala Microsoft Hololens.

Wrapping things up, along with today’s product announcement, Qualcomm is also announcing that the XR1 is already near completion. The company has already signed on four partners for VR headsets, including not only frontrunner HTC Vive, but also Pico, Meta, and Vuzix, with the goal of not just shipping the XR1 SoC this year, but getting consumer headsets on the market by late this year. In which case we should be seeing designs from those partners very soon.