BARCELONA – In a surprise announcement the night before the Mobile World Congress opens here, Huawei Devices showed what it claims were the world's fastest handsets and tablets, using a new quad-core applications processor designed by its chip division. Huawei said its K3V2 chip significantly outperforms the competition, including Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra3.
The 1.2-1.5 GHz K3V2 was a two-year project of Huawei’s HiSilicon division. Officials said the chip delivers 30 to 50 percent more performance than the Tegra3 across a range of benchmarks.
A 64-bit memory bus--twice the width of the Tegra3--is one of the main factors in the performance of the K3V2, said Jerry Su, chief architect of the chip. Built in a TSMC 40 nm low power process, the chip fits in a 12x12mm package. Su said Huawei is willing to sell the chip as a merchant part to other handset makers.
The 40 nm Huawei K3V2 fits in a 12x12 mm package.
The K3V2 uses four ARM Cortex A9 cores and a 16-core graphics block co-developed with an unnamed U.S. chip designer. The two collaborated on the GPU’s architecture, and the U.S. partner handled its implementation.
The graphics block handles 2-D and 3-D work and helps a handset deliver 35 frames/second video compared to 13 fps for Tegra 3 and 8.4 for a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon, according to Huawei's tests.
In addition, the chip sports new versions of several existing Huawei hardware accelerators. They include blocks to speed up audio, video, network processing and to handle power management functions.
The design was a big leap for the HiSilicon group whose last chip, released two years ago, sported just one A9 core.
“The time pressure is the biggest issue,” said Su. “We are moving faster than Moore’s Law,” he said.
Indeed, the group hopes to have a follow on design out in 12 months that uses A15 and A7 cores in a big/little brother configuration ARM announced last year. That chip will likely use 28 nm technology, a process that will take another six months to mature, said Su.
Huawei is not widely known for its applications processors. However, the company has been designing handset chips for several years, said Su who has been with the mobile group for eight years.
In addition to a tablet, the company plans separate models of smartphones using the chip in 1.2 and 1.5 GHz versions. The Ascend D quad will go on sales in global markets this summer. The smartphones will use a 4.5-inch screen with a 1290 x 720 pixel resolution capable of 720-progressive video.
The systems use third party baseband chips to cover 3G and LTE networks.Su said HiSilicon has an LTE multi-band chip in the works that could be ready for the market in six months. The company already makes LTE chips for data cards.
The company is on a fast rise in handsets, said Richard Yu, chairman of Huawei Devices. The unit shipped just three million handsets two years ago, but sales jumped to 20 million last year and could triple to 60 million this year with up to 40 percent of sales in China, Yu said.
On the technology front, Su said his design team was able to leverage multicore expertise from HiSilicon designers who have developed multicore network processors and base station chips.
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on the event.
Jerry Su with the Huawei Ascend Quad D using his K3V2 chip.