Over the weekend at IFA 2017 in Berlin, Huawei introduced the Kirin 970 processor, the first of its kind to include artificial intelligence baked into the chip.
Instead of hosting AI in the cloud, the Kirin 970 has an integrated neural network processing unit (NPU) for processing intensive tasks like image recognition on the device.
During the launch presentation, Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Technologies Consumer Business Group, cited that the Kirin 970 is capable of processing 1.2 gigabits per second, twice as fast as its predecessor, the Kirin 960. In terms of image recognition, the processor can handle 2000 images per minute, which Yu boasted is "five times faster than the competition." The Kirin 970 will debut on the Huawei Mate 10 series smartphones, which the company will showcase in Munich on Oct. 16.
"With the AI processor inside, we can achieve real time on-device AI processing. It is difficult for you to do that with your CPU, with your GPU, but with the NPU we can do that," said Yu.
The announcement caps a series of revelations from makers of smartphones and their components that signal hardware advancements to facilitate augmented reality experiences.
At IFA 2017, Huawei joined their competitors at Sony and Lenovo in introducing augmented reality imaging capabilities for forthcoming mobile devices. Last week, Sony introduced its Xperia XZ1 line of smartphones, with 3D scanning capabilities integrated into its camera, while Lenovo unveiled the Moto X4, which brings Snapchat-like AR stickers to its camera, as well as its AR headset for the Star Wars: Jedi Challenges game.
Moreover, with the Kirin 970 Huawei take aim at Qualcomm in terms of processor capabilities for augmented reality experiences. Qualcomm recently announced its latest generation Spectra ISP, which integrates computer vision and SLAM into its Snapdragon processors.
Of course, this time next week, we'll know what augmented reality capabilities Apple will bring to its next iPhone.