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Huawei made quite a big splash at IFA 2017, after announcing its Kirin 970 processor. In a somewhat unexpected move, the company integrated a “Neural Processing Unit” (NPU) on the processor, being a chip designed for AI tasks.
Naturally, we had a few questions to ask about the AI capabilities of the NPU, the Kirin 970 in general and the Mate 10. For starters, what kind of real-world user cases would we be seeing as a result? We’ve seen the image recognition tests, for one, but what else should we expect?
What to expect from AI-focused silicon?
“The NPU is also integrated into CPU and GPU performance, increasing power efficiency by 20% and 90% respectively. Through partnerships we have with certain third party application providers we will also offer more real world benefits to users,” Huawei’s team told Gearburn. Unfortunately for those expecting names of third-parties, Huawei said more details would be revealed at the Mate 10 launch.
At the time of the Kirin 970 reveal, the company said that the NPU would also allow for improved image quality. So can we expect a Pixel or Galaxy S8-style approach to image processing?
Huawei was cagey on going into specifics. “Exact details will be available later, however you can expect the NPU to enhance overall camera functionality and image quality,” the company wrote.
Longer battery life, better cameras?
The move to a smaller 10nm manufacturing process generally comes with improved efficiency and thus better battery life. And the company is talking up big efficiency improvements with the Kirin 970.
Would three days of battery life be possible if the new chip were to be slapped into the Mate 9? Of course, it’s extremely unlikely that the firm would re-release the Mate 9 with the new chip, but Huawei’s older phablet already hit two days without much trouble at all.
“Obviously battery life is very specific to user scenarios, that being said, three days’ battery is a definite possibility.”
Moving to the Mate 10 proper, a previous press release on the Mate 10 suggests that the new phone would have two 20MP main cameras, citing “industry insiders”. We asked for more clarity around this. “At this time we cannot confirm exact specs of the device,” the company responded.
The same release suggests that f/1.7 apertures will appear in both cameras, citing “insiders” again. “Let’s just say you could expect another industry first,” the company said in response to our query in this regard.