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Friday, 25 September 2015

Honor 7 - Part 2: Kirin 935

Honor 7 uses the current highest available CPU from Huawei's own Hisilicon in the form of Kirin 935. This might be not the first phone to use Kirin 935 but its the first mass produced and sold to mass market. Kirin 935 was also the same one used in Huawei's flagship P8 Max and not the highly popular P8 where it is powered by Kirin 930. The difference between these two CPU is just on the overclocked big core that is slightly faster by 200MHz.

Kirin 935 was build on ARM's big.LITTLE architecture where a global task scheduler will intelligently use the cores as per requirement. While most chip producer would opt for a mix of lower and higher model for the big.LITTLE architecture, Hisilicon uses the same A53 ARM chips for both with four core of "enhanced A53" chips.The eight core are divided into two cluster with one having the maximum 1.5GHz clock speed while the other one is clocked at 2.2GHz.

Apart from the high maximum clock speed of the Cortex-A53 cores, the external RAM interface is likely to be a dual-channel 32-bit configuration like previous performance-oriented SoCs from HiSilicon. Presentation materials from Huawei describe the Cortex-A53 cores in the faster cluster of four CPUs as being of a special, performance-enhanced type, which probably reflects the application of ARM's PoP core-hardening technology whereby the core is optimized for running at a specific frequency and a particular power profile, trading performance against die size.

Huawei refrained from using the more powerful Cortex-A57 cores, because they provide a modest 56% performance increase versus a massive 256% increase in power consumption over the Cortex-A53, the company claims. Power and heat issue was a big problem with Qualcomm snapdragon that Huawei felt that they wont be jumping yet until they themselves can find a solution.

Even with only A53 chips used, Kirin 935 is no slouch when in come to performing task and it is shown in benchmark done on Honor 7. Honor 7 instruction set is still ARMv7l while it is a 64Bit hardware it also could run ARM-v8 application but it is optimized to run 32Bit app better. We would try to run 32 Bit benchmark whichever applicable as any 64Bit benchmark would actually create more task for the CPU to run system compatibility.

Antutu Score

Antutu have both 64 and 32 bit benchmark and we found out that score for both are different. While Kirin 935 is a 64Bit hardware configuration, Honor opt to use 32 bit kernel for its EMUI 3.1 thus making Antutu 32Bit benchmark a more realistic score.

The big LPDDR3 3GB RAM also helps with the score with its higher clocked RAM at 1600MHz giving a respectable 12.8GB/s bandwidth.

GPU still is Huawei's low point with the same old Mali T628 MP4 are used again in this chipset similar to the last year Kirin 920 that powered Honor 6. With better graphic, Kirin 935 can be a powerful force to reckon with but when cost is a major concerned "don't fix what is not broken " triumphant.

Geekbench 3 Score

Geekbench on the other hand concentrate on the CPU and there is no easy option to change the test to 32 Bit. The result are respectable and are on par with other flagship chipsets as shown below

While its not really the best, it stood up really well against Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 with higher Multicore score even if the other one is using A57 core that have significant higher calculation rate that Kirin 935 A53. This score really justified Huawei move to forgo A57 and stick to enhancing A53 to the fullest.

Kirin 935 might not be the raw power SoC but it have its perks while delivering performance on a relatively low power consumption. This could be the indication for things to come from Huawei once they start embracing the more powerful A57/A72 with better fabrication for their next generation of Kirin SoC.

Part 1 : The Design
Part 3 : The Camera

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