HiSilicon Technologies Co. Ltd., the chip design arm of telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (Shenzhen, China), has developed an octacore applications processor dubbed the Kirin 920 that includes an LTE category 6 modem, according to reports.
The development puts HiSilicon close to or, in some cases, ahead of application processor competition from Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek and potentially in position to reduce Chinese dependence on foreign chips to go inside hundreds of millions of mobile phones produced there each year.
The Kirin 920 includes four Cortex-A15 and four Cortex-A7 cores and the Mali-T628 MP4 quad-core graphics and is implemented in 28HPM manufacturing process technology from foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. The Cortex-A7s can be clocked at up to 1.6-GHz and the Cortex-A15s at up to 2.0-GHz while the Mali GPU runs at 600MHz. It is reported that all eight cores can be operated at the same time as well as being used in a big-little configuration.
The LTE support is something that market leader Qualcomm has been successful with but many other application processor vendors have failed to integrate so far. It also includes a Tensilica HiFi3 audio processor, support for 4K video recording and for 2560 by RGB by 1440 pixel display, known as quad-HD or QHD.
The Kirin 920 outperforms the quad-core Snapdragon 801 from Qualcomm; and Samsung's 4-plus-4 octa-core Exynos 5420; and the so-called "true-octa" MT6592 from MediaTek, according to reports of benchmark results presented by Huawei.
It is not yet clear whether HiSilicon will provide the Kirin 920 to other equipment makers or will be used solely within Huawei mobile phones. The Honor 6 mobile phone from Huawei – otherwise known as Mulan – is said to be destined to use the Kirin 920.
China, which manufactures nearly 40 percent of the world's electronic equipment and almost all its smartphones, imported $232.2 billion of ICs in 2013, up 34.6 percent year on year, according to a Xinhua article that referenced China's custom authorities as its source.
The same article said HiSilicon, China's leading chip company was one eighth the size of Qualcomm in 2013 and Huawei would be reluctant to commit to using HiSilicon chips extensively for fear of being denied access to other key technologies.
Huawei is not expected to export the HiSilicon Kirin 920 chips and will only use them in less than half its own smartphone products. "The strategy we adopt is one plus one or one plus N, which means that for every HiSilicon chip that Huawei incorporates in its products, it will integrate one chip or more from other suppliers," the Xinhua report quoted Xu Zhijun, deputy president of Huawei, as saying.
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