Huawei became the first smartphone maker to launch a mobile processor based on 7nm process when it announced the Kirin 980 at IFA in August. The chipset was based on TSMC’s 7nm process and it is the one used by Apple and Qualcomm as well. Now, reports have emerged about the successor to this chipset and the process that will be used to build it. The next mobile platform from Huawei is likely to be called the Kirin 985 and will bring minor improvements to the Kirin 980, its current flagship processor.
Now, a new report originating from Taiwan, claims that the Chinese technology company has become the second largest client of TSMC and will be the first to adopt the EUV (extreme ultraviolet) process node manufacturing. The process might be seen first on the Kirin 990, says Digitimes. Huawei and TSMC have become close partners in recent years and is said to be the second largest client for the pure-play foundry company. Huawei was the first to introduce TSMC’s 16nm, 10nm and 7nm processes to the market via Kirin 960, Kirin 970 and Kirin 980 chipsets respectively.
Huawei had said that the development of Kirin 980 cost more than $300 million and it was planned to launch back in 2015. The report mentions that Huawei and TSMC worked on its development by studying the 7nm process and the entire research and development phase lasted for 36 months. TSMC is currently the leader in 7nm process and is mass producing the first-generation chipsets based on the process. The Taiwanese foundry is preparing to introduce the second-generation 7nm process (N7 Plus) EUV lithography process and the mass production is said to begin in the first quarter of 2019.
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It is not immediately clear whether Huawei is dropping the Kirin 985 in favor of Kirin 990. A previous report said that the company has started developing the Kirin 990 and there is a possibility that the company will integrate the 5G baseband with it for the first time. This chip is expected to use the N7 Plus fabrication process. TSMC, meanwhile, is also working on the 5nm process, which will also use the EUV technology. The mass production of chipset based on 5nm process is expected to begin in 2020.