The Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Huawei, claims that its new phone, the Honor View 10, is the first to use a Neural Network Processing Unit. It says that this unit combined with a Kirin 970 chipset will deliver up to 25 times better performance than non AI-enabled smartphones.
Huawei’s AI-chip is an entirely new advancement in smartphone technology and is should not be confused with the term ‘AI-powered’ used by phones with AI virtual assistants such as Google Assistant and Siri on it.
“These AI-processors are special chips, extra to the main processor that is super-fast at doing neural network and machine learning calculations,” said Dino Burbidge, director of technology and innovation at WCRS. More ‘cores’ had to be added in order to make the processors do more as the GPU (general processing unit) has reached its maximum speed possible without overheating.
The neural-network based new AI-processors can achieve fast connections with less reliance on precise, sequential calculations, which results in a significant speed increase.
However, Huawei is not the first to launch a smartphone with one of these new processors installed. Google’s Pixel 2 launched with a neural-network based IPU (image processing unit) installed, but because they ran out of time at launch, the feature has not been turned on.
“It’s essentially a dedicated chip with stripped out features but also has visual languages built into it so the processor can process image data super-fast. It’s really for images but tantalizingly, it’s also programmable,” explained Burbidge.
Huawei’s chip is similar to Google’s one, with a slight difference: the chip is an NPU (neural processing unit), which makes it technically accessible for anything else the handset needs doing that can benefit from the power of neural network-type calculations