Huawei, the top smartphone brand in China, announced its latest in-house processor Kirin 960 today in its home country. It is the successor to Kirin 950, though there is also an upgraded Kirin 955 processor launched in between. While the Kirin 950 looked underpowered when compared to the Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, we hope the Kirin 960 to perform on par with the Snapdragon and Exynos flagship processors. It is manufactured using the 16nm FinFET process. This new processor is built on big.LITTLE technology using four of the latest Cortex A73 cores that offers high performance and another four low-powered Cortex A53 cores.
The Cortex A73 cores are clocked at 2.4GHz while the Cortex A53 cores come clocked at 1.8GHz. For comparison, the Cortex A72 cores on Kirin 950 and Kirin 955 processors are clocked at 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz respectively. The biggest update on the Kirin 960 processor is the Mali-G71 MP8 GPU that is said to offer better graphics performance compared to other processors. This new GPU performs 180% faster than the Mali T880 GPU that is used with the Kirin 950 and Kirin 955 processors. The upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone that is rumored to launch at the MWC 2017 might also come with the same Mali G71 GPU.
Huawei also demonstrated the performance of its new processor by testing the Kirin 960 powered device with the Galaxy Note 7 and Apple iPhone 7. Out of the top 14 apps used by Chinese, 13 apps are opened faster on the Kirin 960 powered smartphone. While the Apple A10 performs better in single core test, the Kirin 960 outperforms all the other processors in multi-core test. As this new processor supports LPDDR4 RAM and UFS 2.1 storage standards, it can offer much better read and write speeds. Talking about the cellular connectivity, the Kirin 960 comes with quad carrier aggregation (4CA) which combines RF carriers at the device to increase the internet speeds. Compared to 3CA, the device with 4CA can reach speeds upto 600Mbps.
The Kirin 960 by default supports CDMA technology and Cat.12 and Cat.13 LTE for downloads and uploads by default. It has the improved dual 14-bit Image Signal Processing (ISP) sensor that is mentioned to capture better clarity images. The Kirin 960 processor also supports a bunch of refocusing options, though the availability depends on the camera sensor used on the particular smartphone. The battery usage optimization is one big factor to look, as the smartphones are now equipped with much powerful specifications than earlier. The i6 smart sensing core on the Kirin 960 does several optimizations, and in the demo showcased by the company, the battery life is more than doubled while playing the Pokemon Go.
On the security front, it comes certified by the Union Pay and People’s Bank of China for authorizing mobile payments. It is also said to support advanced encryption techniques with a 3-tier security system protection. The Huawei Mate 8 is the first smartphone to come with Kirin 950 processor while the recently launched Huawei P9 and P9 Plus sports the upgraded Kirin 955 processor. Now the upcoming flagship from Huawei, Mate 9 will be the first device to feature the Kirin 960 processor. The upcoming flagship processors from Samsung and Qualcomm will be much more powerful when they are officially unveiled in 2017. In 2017, we also expect Huawei to come with an upgraded variant of the Kirin 960 processor to compete in this fast-paced world.