Thursday, April 16, 2015

HiSilicon introduces Kirin 930/935, a performance-oriented Cortex-A53-based SoC

Huawei has introduced the Huawei P8 and P8max smartphones, featuring the Kirin 930 and Kirin 935 SoCs from Huawei's  HiSilicon semiconductor division. The octa-core Kirin 930 SoC is a performance-oriented SoC featuring only Cortex-A53 CPU cores. With a maximum clock frequency in excess of 2.0 GHz, it bears similarities to MediaTek's MT6795, but the use of a pseudo big.LITTLE configuration (four Cortex-A53 cores clocked up to 2.0 GHz and four Cortex-A53 cores clocked up to 1.5 GHz, for a total of eight cores) is reminiscent of Qualcomm's midrange Snapdragon 615 SoC, which runs at lower clock frequencies.

Huawei also introduced high-end models of both the P8 and P8max with larger storage capacity featuring the Kirin 935 SoC, which is a higher-clocked version of Kirin 930. The Huawei P8max is a smartphone with an unusually large 6.8" display.

SoC is targeted at performance-oriented devices

The Huawei P8 models are higher-priced performance-oriented smartphones, and the characteristics of the SoC match this segment. Apart from the high maximum clock speed of the Cortex-A53 cores, the external RAM interface is likely to be a dual-channel 32-bit configuration like previous performance-oriented SoCs from HiSilicon. Presentation materials from Huawei describe the Cortex-A53 cores in the faster cluster of four CPUs as being of a special, performance-enhanced type, which probably reflects the application of ARM's PoP core-hardening technology whereby the core is optimized for running at a specific frequency and a particular power profile, trading performance against die size. The process technology used is likely to be TSMC's proven 28HPM process.

The SoC is reminiscent of MediaTek's recently introduced MT6795 (Helio-X), which also targets the performance segment with an octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU configuration. MediaTek's SoC has been reported to have been adopted by competitors of Huawei such as HTC and Xiaomi.

Previous generation Mali-T628 MP4 GPU used

Rather than using an updated current-generation GPU like Mali-T760, the specs sheet for the P8max indicates the Kirin 930/935 SoCs continue to use the Mali-T628 MP4 GPU that was previously used in the Kirin 920 SoC. This GPU core is not known for great power efficiency, although there are suggestions that the more efficient Mali-T760 (which features memory bandwidth optimizations) has a relatively high silicon area and cost.

HiSilicon's new SoC line-up uses only Cortex-A53 CPU cores

Apart from Kirin 930, HiSilicon has also introduced the Kirin 620 SoC, which is an octa-core Cortex-A53 based SoC for the cost-sensitive segment, clocked up to 1.2 GHz and with a single-channel memory interface. This means Huawei now has in-house Cortex-A53-based SoCs suitable for most of its smartphone product range.

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