Huawei has already manufactured three generations of its high-end processors with a specific chip for artificial intelligence. Far from betting on software, the Chinese manufacturer put the NPU into circulation with the Kirin 970, its neural processing unit, and has not stopped making it evolve since then.

The big difference between the previous chips and the new Kirin 990 is that a more standardized architecture, the Cambricon, was used before, and now Huawei is betting on Leonardo da Vinci, a more advanced customization of it. It's the name of the new architecture, Da Vinci, developed entirely in China and premiered already aboard the mid-line Kirin 810. But now it reaches the high end and does it based on its most powerful NPU.

Three cores for 5G but only two for 4G


The NPU of the Kirin 980 of last year had already unfolded. The original core had become two, but the Kirin 990 is a double step forward in this regard. We no longer talk only that we go from two processing cores for artificial intelligence to three, but that this NPU adopts a system that is already an old acquaintance of the world of processors: the big.LITTLE.

Huawei prefers to use the term big / small here but the concept is exactly the same. The three cores of the NPU with Da Vinci architecture of the Kirin 990 are divided into two blocks. We have two high power cores to load with the heaviest operations and a smaller core and with less capacity for lighter tasks.

In addition to the new architecture, Huawei unfolds the cores using the classic big.LITTLE of the processors

Another key aspect is that the most powerful nuclei are compatible with INT8 and FP16 tensioners, that is, we now have two compatible cores instead of just one, as was the case with the Kirin 980. Huawei itself says that this change has caused some operations to increase its efficiency, such as facial recognition that is now 24 times more efficient than before

The third core, as we said before, is for tasks that require less power and do not interfere with key aspects of phone security. As in the activation of the telephone by voice, for example, or as in everything related to the internal management of the telephone or the management of the battery charge. Eye, that this core is also capable of processing photographs, although it remains out of intelligent video processing due to its low capacity.

The AI ​​of Kirin 990

The Da Vinci architecture, unlike the more standardized Cambricon design of previous generations, is now fully compatible with NNAPI for working with neural networks. Of course, we will have two Kirin 990 processors and the model with 5G is the one that wins the 4G has a NPU with only two cores instead of three. Design decisions

Thus, the Da Vinci NPU now reaches the high-end chips of the Chinese company after its passage through the middle line. A NPU that multiply the yield by six from the previous NPU and multiply its efficiency by eight. Huawei figures, of course. We will see how the first mobile that carries the Kirin 990 on the market behaves, and if it is a 5G mobile. It seems that the difference can be sensitive.

Via | TechUpdatess