How Huawei, the Kirin 970 and AI will Outsmart Their Competition

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photo credit: Huawei

 

Behind the scenes look at Huawei’s Kirin 970 processor- the brains behind the anticipated Mate 10 series.

The Fall is officially smartphone release season.  

Apple, Samsung have released their devices. Google is scheduled for October 4th.

Who’s left? Huawei.

The Chinese tech giant has scheduled their big launch for October 16, 2017, in Munich, Germany.

Official Huawei Invitation (credit: phoneunbox.com)

 

In the weeks leading up to iPhone 8 and iPhone X launch, every tech company was jockeying to give Apple a tough fight. Most companies weren’t bold enough to push the buttons of their competition.

Based on Huawei’s social media content, however, it’s clear that they’ve placed the Silicon Valley-based company in their crosshairs.

Earlier this month,  during the announcement of Kirin 970, Richard Yu, CEO of Consumer Business Group, boldly stated that Huawei’s device “will surpass Apple’s iPhone 8, as our phone will have much longer battery life, much faster-charging speed, much better camera and photographic capability, as well as much better overall user experience,”

Up Close with the Kirin 970

Huawei Connect 2017, KOL Roundtable

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be invited to Shanghai, China for Huawei Connect 2017. Together with 18 other global Key Opinion Leaders, I attended Huawei’s main conference, bringing together over 20,000 people.

Imagine knowing almost everything there is to know about a device and the tech specs of the brains that power this device before everyone else?

How many tech enthusiasts have the opportunity to sit with the team responsible for the strategy, operation, and delivery of the processor behind a handset, pre-launch?

That was the Huawei’s Handsets Product Line Roundtable.

The session was lead by  Li Changzhu, VP of the Handsets Product Line. And, while Kevin Ho, President of Product Line, was not present, his passion certainly inspired those presenting.

Or as one of the KOLs tweeted 

This one-to-one conversation certainly enabled us to discuss not only handsets and Huawei but allowed us to learn about the Kirin 970.

Kirin 970 Processor

The roundtable session primarily focused on the company’s recently announced Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 970 processor, its features, the new NPU in the SoC, and how the integrated AI will offer a superior user experience set to disrupt the current market.  The Kirin 970 processor will be the first of its kind to include artificial intelligence baked into the chip.  

It’s pretty clear that Huawei’s Kirin 970, the brains under the anticipated Mate 10, could be the weapon to outperform, outsmart and outlast the competition.

So what’s behind the Kirin 970?

Huawei has been designing its mobile chipsets since 2009. The company’s flagship smartphones feature Huawei’s own Kirin chip, instead of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, which currently powers the Galaxy S8 and OnePlus 5. Both soon to be released phones (basic and Plus versions) are rumored to come with a bezel-less design, a longer battery life, and a dual-camera setup.

Mobile AI = On-Device AI + Cloud AI

“As we look to the future of smartphones, we’re at the threshold of an exciting new era.”

That threshold, according to Huawei is AI.

As artificial intelligence is the clearly the future of mobile devices, it’s quickly taking center stage in the handset market.

“Artificial intelligence will place heavy demands on computing performance, energy efficiency, and device-cloud synergy. Meeting these demands and creating a better intelligent experience will take a synthesis of capabilities across both chipsets and the cloud.”

That’s the vision behind Kirin 970.

Consumers are familiar with AI-powered digital assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Now, Cortana, and Bixby, this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the potential of AI.

Granted, Huawei hasn’t launched an assistant of its own yet and is remaining silent about how consumers should really be using these assistants.  

During the roundtable, the company presented us with Kirin’s NPU lightning speed image recognition.

What makes the Kirin 970 so unique?

Most phones allow the CPU to carry out AI computing tasks, for Huawei the NPU is assigned the tasks and it does it better and faster. According to the figures provided, the Kirin 970’s NPU delivers performance that is 25 times more than the CPU’s, and efficiency that is 50 times greater.

In other words, the Kirin 970 can perform the same AI computing tasks as the competition, but faster and with far less power.

For the sake of example, Kirin 970 processed 2,000 images in one minute while the iPhone 7 sorted only 487.

That’s impressive.

Granted, we’ll have to wait for a full comparison between Kirin 970 to iPhone’s newest A11 processor. 

Open to Developers

Another key aspect of the Kirin 970 is that Huawei is ready to open it to developers. The constantly evolving developments in AI require a collaborative effort across the value chain, from both developers and customers. Echoing the official Kirin announcement,  during the roundtable we heard that Huawei is positioning the Kirin 970 as an open platform for mobile AI. Opening up the chipset to developers and partners will enable them to find new and innovative uses for its processing capabilities.

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. Richard Yu, September 2nd Announcement

Revolution of Handset Market?

With only a few weeks until the release of Huawei’s next flagship device, it will certainly be powered by Kirin 970. Until Munich, the rumors will soar about the processor, its potential, and its impressive speed. The Kirin 970, like its competitive counterparts, is certainly signaling a revolution in the handset market. This revolution is ensuring that the processors and the devices are functioning at optimal levels to provide premier augmented reality experiences.

Does Kirin 970 and Huawei’s soon-to-be-released device have what it takes to outpace and out-perform the competition?  Can being last in this year’s series of handset announcements prove to be the best strategic position for the dominant Chinese tech company?

I’m certainly bullish on Huawei.

Until then, Huawei has been taking a page from their competition and using social media to leak images of their flagship device.  

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