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Kirin 710 reportedly in the works: Is HUAWEI giving its mid-range phones a boost?

Huawei's mid-range phones could gain AI silicon and heavyweight CPU cores in the next few weeks.

Published onJune 13, 2018

The HUAWEI Nova Plus.
The HUAWEI Nova Plus.
  • Huawei’s HiSilicon chip division is reportedly working on the Kirin 710 processor.
  • The new chipset will apparently feature heavyweight Cortex-A73 cores, a smaller design, and AI silicon.
  • Huawei’s Nova 3 is tipped to be the first smartphone with the new processor.

Huawei’s mid-range Kirin chips are in need of a refresh. Since the Kirin 650 in 2016, they’ve packed the same lightweight octa-core Cortex-A53 cores, an ancient GPU, and 16nm manufacturing processes. They might soon see a rejuvenation too, as the HiSilicon Kirin 710 SoC is said to be in the works.

According to Digitimesciting “industry sources,” the new processor is meant to take on the new Snapdragon 710 chipset, though it seems to resemble MediaTek’s Helio P60 more than anything. The Kirin 710 is said to offer a heavyweight (but last-gen) Cortex-A73 cores, for one. It’s unclear whether this would be a four plus four arrangement like the P60 (four A53 and four A73 cores), but it’s likely, as the older cores don’t have the DynamIQ tech which enables more flexible core layouts.

AI power for mid-range phones?

HiSilicon Kirin series

Where it gets very interesting is in the claim that the Kirin 710 will offer a neural processing unit (NPU). The NPU, designed for machine learning, is only found on HUAWEI’s flagship Kirin 970 chipset right now. So bringing this to a cheaper processor could enable new functionality on a mid-range phone, such as improved scene recognition, better low-light snaps, and offline language translation via Microsoft’s app.

The Kirin 710 is being made on a 12nm process, according to the outlet, which would make for a noteworthy reduction in size over previous mid-range Kirin chips. It’s an identical size to the Helio P60, but slightly larger than the Snapdragon 710’s 10nm process. A smaller manufacturing process generally equates to better efficiency and more sustained performance.

The HUAWEI P10 Lite.
The HUAWEI P10 Lite.

The first HUAWEI phone to use the new Kirin 710 is believed to be the HUAWEI Nova 3, which is apparently codenamed ‘Paris.’ The outlet suggests the phone will launch in July launch, with a 19.5:9 display, and dual-camera setup.

We do wonder whether this chipset will actually filter down to as low a price-point as the $200 HONOR 7X. The new 700-series moniker could mean HUAWEI still intends to produce less capable 600-series chips for budget phones, while using the 710 (and beyond) for upper mid-range handsets. Otherwise, they might have branded it something like the Kirin 660.

If HUAWEI decides to keep the 700-series for its more expensive (but not quite flagship) phones, we hope the 600-series gets a big upgrade too. After all, the Mali T830 GPU is several generations old, and the Cortex-A53 CPU cores now have a successor in the A55 — so we’re long overdue for a meaty mid-range upgrade. Nevertheless, time will tell how the Kirin 710 fits into HUAWEI’s portfolio (if it’s indeed coming).

Would you buy a Kirin 710-equipped phone over a Snapdragon 710 device? What about a Helio P60 phone? Sound off in the comments section below.

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