Get Ready For a Never-Before-Seen Mobile AI Experience
Huawei's New Kirin 970 Chip Brings Intelligence to the Palm of Your Hand
Promotional Feature by Huawei
Artificial intelligence is one of the most important, and exciting, areas of technology today. People keep talking about how it is expected to impact all aspects of human life, from how we live at work, to how we drive cars, to how organizations do business.
The way companies like Huawei approach AI make it appear especially close to reality. It’s all about improving our relationship with technology, making it predict our needs in an innately human way. And not just suggesting something else we might want to buy at the checkout, either.
Get Ready For a Never-Before-Seen Mobile AI Experience
Huawei’s New Kirin 970 Chip Brings Intelligence to the Palm of Your Hand.
We’re just at the early stages of seeing how AI can weave all this together so we have to spend less time stressing over life’s little bits of admin. However, Huawei has leaped ahead of the pack by building its latest Kirin 970 chipset with a unique AI computing system.
Phones are close to reaching the “next level” of intelligence we call AI. They can already control the lights, locks and living rooms in our homes, plan our days and keep us entertained. And there’s more to come.
Whether you’ve realised it or not, you have probably used an element of AI on your phone. Perhaps a voice assistant.
Most phones do this passively, with a hardware not specifically tailored for AI. They have normal CPUs and GPUs. And they get by because most phones are incredibly powerful these days.
Kirin 970 is the first mobile phone chipset with an NPU, a neural network processing unit. This specialized NPU, combined with Huawei’s CPU-GPU HiAI mobile computing platform, is designed specifically to handle the sorts of tasks required of AI software.
Kirin 970’s NPU is 50 times more energy efficient and up to 25 times faster than traditional processors when dealing with the same artificial intelligence application. For example, one core task of an AI system is to analyse images. With 300 percent better recognition speed than the previous Kirin 960, Kirin 970 can process a huge 2,000 images a minute.
Having dedicated hardware lets Kirin 970 perform intense AI tasks more quickly and efficiently while using less power. This is “on-device” AI, which is quite different from the pure cloud approach generally used.
Cloud vs. On-Device AI
Your average AI application operates by sending packets of data to the cloud, where it is analysed and then sent back to your phone. This could include images taken with a phone’s camera, or perhaps a sample of your voice recorded using the microphone.
Not only is time spent waiting for a response, but there are also high data costs especially with regard to real-time visual AI apps. Kirin 970’s on-device AI, on the other hand, possesses infrastructure that can create a large amounts of content – and also process it in a timely manner. This makes it a much better choice for consumers, as it’s faster, more stable and more secure too.
Huawei isn’t out to get rid of “cloud AI.” But perfecting the relationship between the cloud and the devices in our hands and homes is how we’ll get to an AI experience that feels more natural, intuitive and, eventually, human.
To further improve the connection between cloud and on-device AI, Kirin supports the latest Cat.18 and Cat.16 LTE connections. This means download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps and up to 1Gbps, respectively, and uploads of up to 150Mbps are possible.
It’s just another part of the chain that speeds-up a phone, making it feel seamless whether you’re using AI or just downloading a photo.
There are many other sides to the Kirin 970 processor too. It’s also a very powerful phone brain in a more conventional sense.
Kirin 970 has an octa-core CPU and a 12-core graphics processor. It also uses the latest 10nm process. This tells you how miniaturised a processor’s transistors are. There are 5.5 billion in a square centimetre here.
It is one of the most powerful mobile processors in the world.
AI in Your Camera
AI also comes into play in Kirin 970’s camera hardware. It has a dual ISP, or image signal processor.
This is the processor that constantly analyses what the camera ‘sees’ as you take photos, and is the (mostly) unsung hero behind today’s great mobile phone photo quality. It alters the brightness, the ISO sensitivity, colour temperature and exposure duration every time you press the shutter button.
Even tilting your phone a few degrees can totally change the tricks the camera needs to use and the dual ISP will make these changes on-the-fly without you even noticing the difference. The result is natural colour and perfect exposure every time, so you don’t have to take half a dozen shots just to make sure you get a good one.
Kirin 970 also supports advanced zero-lag autofocus. This uses scene intelligence to determine the kind of focus needed. It’s particularly important for action photography, where your subject might be moving across the scene at speed. With Kirin 970, your phone camera will know this just as well as you do.
A camera ISP at work is some of the most impressive and invisible intelligence you’ll experience in a phone. Because some of the best uses of AI don’t come with fireworks, they just work in the background to make your life easier.
We can expect many more life-enhancing takes on artificial intelligence once developers get their hands on Kirin 970’s new NPU hardware.