Huawei Kirin 990 & Samsung Exynos 980 are the First Mobile SoCs with Integrated 5G Modem

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[Update: post edited on September 6, 2019 with more details about Kirin 990 5G following the official launch of the processor]

We’ve already seen mobile phones and laptops with the latest 5G cellular connectivity such as Samsung Galaxy S10 5G or Lenovo Project Limitless 5G laptop, which internally are designed with an Arm SoC plus a separate 5G modem chip.

But as IFA 2019 is about to start, both Huawei and Samsung claim to have introduced the world’s first SoC with an integrated 5G modem with respectively Huawei Kirin 990 and Samsung Exynos 980. We should note that MediaTek is working on their own 5G SoC as well.

Samsung Exynos 980

Samsung Exynos 980

Samsung has already made the announcement so we have Exynos 980 key features and specifications:

  • CPU – Octa-core processor with two Arm Cortex-A77 cores @ 2.2GHz, six Arm Cortex-A55 cores @ 1.8GHz
  • GPU – Mali-G76 MP5 GPU
  • Integrated NPU with “performances of up to 2.7 times compared to its predecessor”
  • Memory I/F – LPDDR4x
  • Storage I/F – UFS 2.1, eMMC 5.1
  • Display  – Up to WQHD+ (3360×1440)
  • Camera – Single-camera up to 108Mp, dual-camera 20MP+20MP
  • Video – 4K UHD 120fps encoding and decoding with HEVC(H.265), H.264, VP9
  • Modem
    • 5G NR Sub-6GHz 2.55Gbps (DL) / 1.28Gbps (UL),
    • LTE Cat.16 5CA 1Gbps (DL) / Cat.18 2CA 200Mbps (UL)
  • Wireless Connectivity – Support for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5, and GNSS
  • Process – 8nm FinFET

Exynos 980 mass production should start by the end of this year. More details can be found on the product page and press release.

Huawei Kirin 990

Kirin 990 5G SoC
Source: Roland Quandt (Twitter) – Click to Enlarge

Huawei formally announced Kirin 990 on September 6, 2019, and there are two models: Kirin 990 (with a 4G modem) and Kirin 990 5G.

Kirin 990 (5G) specifications:

  • CPU
    • Kirin 990 5G – Dual cortex A76 @ 2.86GHz, dual cortex-A76 @ 2.36GHz, quad cortex A55 @ 1.95GHz
    • Kirin 990 – Dual cortex A76 @ 2.86GHz, dual cortex-A76 @ 2.09GHz, quad cortex A55 @ 1.86GHz
  • GPU – Arm Mali-G76MP16 @ 700 MHz
  • NPU
    • Kirin 990 5G – Dual Da Vinci NPU
    • Kirin 990 – DaVinci NPU
  • Memory I/F – LPDDR4-4266
  • Storage – UFS 3.0
  • Modem
    • Kirin 990 5G – Balong 5G modem supporting NSA/SA (Non-Standalone and Standalone); up to 2.3 Gbps peak download, up to  1.25 Gbps peak upload
    • Kirin 990 – 4G modem
  • Video – 4K 60fps video recording
  • Process – 7nm FINFET Plus EUV

The processor will power Huawei Mate 30, as less as Huawei Mate X foldable smartphone. If you have one-hour to spare, you can also watch the full IFA 2019 presentation below.

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Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft)blu Recent comment authors
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The curious part for me in this news is how CA77 is coming to mid-level phones early next year, by multiple vendors, at that. Apparently CA77 was much further along in development (by partners as well) when arm announced it. The days of ‘announce a big core today, to be found on shelves 1-2 years down the line’ are gone.

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Update on Kirin 990: preliminary specifications were wrong — final product is a CA76 design — 2xCA76 @2.86GHz, 2xCA76 @2.09GHz, 4xCA55 @1.86GHz.