Kirin 960 SoC: Cortex-A73 and Mali G71

The Kirin 960 is the first SoC to use ARM's latest Cortex-A73 CPU core, which "delivers 30% more performance than the Cortex-A72 current devices in a mobile power envelope," according to ARM.

"The Kirin 960 is the world’s first chipset to feature an ARM Cortex-A73/A53 Octa-core CPU and Mali G71 Octa-core GPU. The CPU delivers the best multi-core performance among all smartphone SoCs, while reducing power consumption by 15 percent. The GPU boasts a 180 percent performance uplift and a 40 percent improvement in energy efficiency compared to its predecessor. The Kirin 960 also takes full advantage of the pioneering Vulkan graphics standard on Android 7.0, increasing graphics performance by up to 400 percent."

Perhaps the most impressive component of the Huawei-made SoC (HiSilicon is wholly owned by Huawei) is the inclusion of the new Mali G71 GPU, which is the first to implement ARM's new Bifrost GPU architecture. The Mali G71 MP8 found in the Kirin 960 offers 8 cores with clock speeds of up to 900 MHz.

"The Mali-G71 GPU is scalable from one to thirty two cores and delivers up to 20% better energy efficiency, 40% better performance density and 20% external memory bandwidth saving compared to Mali-T880 under similar conditions."

The Kirin 960 SoC also contains an integrated baseband which boasts capability similar to the Qualcomm X12 and Samsung Exynos 8890 baseband solutions. (The most comprehensive writeup about the new modem is found in AnandTech's post covering the Kirin 960.)

Image credit: AnandTech

Rather than a liscensed solution, the Kirin 960's LTE modem is a custom Huawei design, with Cat 12/13 connectivity producing up to theoretical 600 Mbps speeds via 4x carrier aggregation (where available, of course).

Next we will look at CPU and GPU performance using standard cross-platform benchmarks.

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