The Huawei’s HiSilicon Kirin 980 has been launched just recently. But we are already getting leaks and rumors concerning the upcoming Kirin chip. Of course, as these are rumors, we can’t affirm their certainty. But one thing is clear – Huawei will do its best to make a better chip and compete with the Qualcomm, Apple, MediaTek, Samsung, and other SoC makers. Previously, we have heard the next-gen Huawei chip will be called the Kirin 985 and it is going to be the slightly upgraded version of the current flagship model. Today, according to the latest media reports, Huawei has become the second-largest client of TSMC and will be the first company adopting the pure-play foundry’s extreme ultraviolet (EUV) process node manufacturing, likely via the Kirin 990.
Huawei’s Kirin processor has had a very close relationship with TSMC in recent years. 16nm, 10nm, and 7nm have all got their first launches through the Kirin chips such as the Kirin 960, Kirin 970, and Kirin 980, respectively.
According to Huawei, the development of the Kirin 980 project cost more than $300 million. Initially, it was launched back in 2015. In the early days, jointly with TSMC, they studied the 7nm process specifications. The entire research and development process lasted for 36 months.
TSMC is currently mass-producing the first-generation 7nm process. But soon, it will introduce the second-generation 7nm process (N7 Plus) EUV lithography, and start mass production in the first quarter of 2019.
According to previous news, Huawei has also started developing the Kirin 990. And there is a great probability to integrate the 5G baseband for the first time. Also, it is assumed to use the N7 Plus.
As for the 5nm process (N5), TSMC will continue to use EUV technology in it as well. It is expected to be put into mass production in 2020.