Huawei Pura70: Kirin 9010 vs. Snapdragon 8+? Still impressive! 👍

Huawei’s new flagship phone, the Pura70 series, has recently hit the market. It features the brand new Kirin 9010 chipset, whose detailed performance data has not been fully disclosed by Huawei. There’s disparity amongst various benchmark scores obtained by different testing agencies, yet the general consensus is that the single-core performance of the Kirin 9010 is on par with the Snapdragon 888, yet it falls short when compared to the performance of the Snapdragon 8+. However, the multi-core performance of the Kirin 9010 is closer to the Snapdragon 7+ Gen2.

Many netizens complain about the Kirin 9010’s lack of high performance. The ultra version of the Huawei Pura70 even scored more than one million points less than the Xiaomi 14, putting it at a disadvantage to competitors frequently represented by Qualcomm. Despite this, why does the Huawei Pura70 dare to retail at such a high price (with the base model starting at ¥5,499, and the ultra version costing as much as ¥9,999)? It’s a question that confuses many.

Tech Corners believes that whether or not Huawei’s flagship phones are priced high is a matter of debate. The Chinese smartphone market is highly competitive, and Huawei does not necessitate purchases. If you’re not fond of Huawei’s narrative or don’t favour the Kirin processor, it’s no big deal. There are plenty of options in the same price range. Everyone’s money is hard-earned and choosing a phone should be about comparing different options and making a decision based on one’s means.

A highly supported opinion states: “Would you even purchase a Huawei phone if it had a Qualcomm chip? There are plenty of choices. It’s the Chinese-made chip in question here, that’s why you purchase Huawei.”

As for benchmark scores, it’s worth noting that this is no longer the era when “If you’re not convinced, run a benchmark” was the standard.

As we all know, Huawei’s Kirin chip faced limitations because the Western countries, led by the USA, pressed on them, which resulted in Huawei’s inability to be granted the newest architecture authorization. Consequently, it cannot utilize the newly launched processor architecture by ARM, which is not a problem faced by Qualcomm.

In the future, MediaTek, Samsung, and Qualcomm may all benefit from new instruction sets, and Kirin faces a possible marginalization unless it takes a different path.

TSMC currently has the most advanced manufacturing process, but it cannot manufacture for HiSilicon. The Kirin processor can only rely on domestically made manufacturing processes, which are not yet at world-leading standards.

However, this also means that it cannot use the processor architecture recently launched by ARM. This may be due to lack of authorization, or not lack of authorization (for example, the small core Cortex-A510 can be used, the small core of 8Gen1).

Under these difficult circumstances, it’s commendable that Huawei seeks progress by using its self-researched Taishan architecture as a substitute, even if the improvements can’t be fully captured by the benchmarks.

The Kirin 9010’s large core, which dropped from the 2.6G peak frequency of the 9000S to 2.3Ghz, has managed to increase performance by nearly 10%. This showcases the strength of HiSilicon’s processor architecture design. Such a substantial upgrade in IPC is indeed rare, and it shows that under these restrictions, HiSilicon didn’t slack off.

Therefore, if the Kirin 9010 scores lower than the 8+ in benchmarks, it’s no need to feel ashamed.

On the other hand, the domestic manufacturing process heavily restricts the processor from reaching higher frequencies. Therefore, even though the IPC of the Kirin 9010 large core is high, the peak performance still cannot compare to that of the 8+ due to its lower frequency.

From previous benchmarks of the Kirin 9000S’s large core, it is clear that 2.6G, which is not considered high for today’s flagships, already exceeds efficiency turning points, leading to massive increases in power consumption. The frequency of the 9010, which was further lowered, reflects the lag in domestic manufacturing processes, but there’s little Huawei can do given the current challenging circumstance.

Regarding benchmark scores, these measure peak performance of a processor and reveal its “upper limit”. The upper limit of the Kirin 9010 is not as high as that of the 8+ Gen1, even the multi-core benchmark relies on hyper-threading technology to increase scores. However, the usefulness of hyper-threading technology in mobile software environments remains a question.

It is very usual for the Kirin 9010’s score to fall short when compared with the 8+. Therefore, in scenarios where processor performance needs to be contested (such as software startup speed, gaming etc.), the Kirin 9010 does not hold an advantage.

But why do the Mate60 series and the P70 series perform smoothly in daily use, unlike processors at the 888 level?

This is because Huawei excels at improving the processor’s “lower limit”. As they create their own processor, they have the advantage of making immediate adjustments (the mobile development team can directly communicate with HiSilicon to address any issues, and the processor’s core capabilities are all open to the mobile department). Typical daily usage doesn’t require the chip to operate at full capacity, that usually happens momentarily at the moment of app startup, and a slight slowdown isn’t a big deal. However, fluent in-app performance doesn’t generally require high performance levels; it depends more on optimization.

This characteristic is absent in Android machines equipped with 888 and 8Gen1, as many models depend enough on the processor’s performance that they’re not fully optimized. However, Huawei, facing a more challenging situation due to the Kirin’s less competitive processor, is much more attentive to optimization in an attempt to improve user experience as much as possible.

Faced with the relatively lower efficiency of the current Kirin chip and satellite communication features that require good thermal support, Huawei has significantly improved the thermal design of their flagship models since the launch of Mate60. This resulted in a strange phenomenon where Huawei’s flagship phones provided just as smooth daily performance as other flagship phones, despite their underwhelming benchmark scores.

Optimization does have its limits, and it mostly guarantees the processor’s lower limit. When it comes to reaching the upper limit in some demanding scenes like gaming, for instance, Honkai · Astral Railroad, which heavily relies on single-core performance and GPU performance, Huawei might have to resort to a lower resolution, forced framing, and exchanging power consumption for performance to compensate for the gaming disadvantage.

As we can see, Huawei’s Kirin chip provides enough performance for light users and even offers several AI features. However, it tends to overheat and has lower battery life, but it doesn’t lag.

As for heavy users, there’s currently no other way; the Kirin chip simply can’t meet the needs of this group for now.

Even under such challenging conditions, Huawei continues to surprise its users, while some other manufacturers without any restrictions fail to deliver.

To quote a friend from the SOC industry:

“No SOC manufacturer can produce a mobile SOC when they can’t get an ARM authorization or licensure from companies like Synopsys for their EDA software and IPs, nor secure the services of an advanced chip manufacturing facility. The core IP market, EDA market, and chip manufacturing market are all dominated by foreign corporations.

Manufacturing a chip is as challenging to Huawei as was building an airplane in China during WWII. The obstacles that beset Huawei go beyond the capabilities of a single company and instead reflect the larger problems facing China’s entire industrial chain.

In comparison, a start-up airplane company in the US during this time would have easy access to everything it needs – from high-quality steel to state-of-the-art laboratories. All it would need to do is design the airplane.

But what does a start-up airplane company need in China? Steel. But where can it source good-quality steel or find laboratories, pilots, or fuel? There’s none!

Even faced with such dire circumstances, Huawei can still manufacture a chip that performs 60% as well as American tech giant Qualcomm’s products. Isn’t that impressive?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.