HUAWEI's chip business has been covered with a mysterious veil, compared with the regular business department of the mobile phone. They rarely stand under the spotlight, and the attention of the outside world does not benefit them too much. In a technology intensive industry, they have more practical problems to solve.
As HUAWEI Fellow Ai Wei, who is responsible for the chip strategy, said, "hard work and hard work is not the result of hard work and hard work. Do customers do not buy it, sorry, you did not see the hard work. "
The only customer of the HUAWEI cell phone chip Kirin is the HUAWEI terminal, that is, the mobile service.
In September this year, Kirin 970 was released, and we have had many exchanges with Huawei chip executives and R & D staff since then, trying to restore the flagship chip Kirin 970.
The logic of HUAWEI's AI dedicated hardware
As one of the forerunners of AI hardware for mobile phones, HUAWEI Kirin 970 will naturally be asked this question: what is the thinking behind the first crab eating?
We threw the problem to HUAWEI's chip team.
"AI chips are the first to solve the problem of calculating force. This is also the logic of HUAWEI's image recognition using a dedicated chip.
At this point, you can use the Google Pixel 2 I recently used as a reference. It's the monsters at the top of the current camera score. But in practical use, it often appears to look back on the picture being processed. The problem of insufficient force of conventional DSP and ISP can be seen. Time delay is more obvious in portrait mode. Even though it has used special Pixel Visual Core to do machine learning, deep mapping and other tasks, the performance is still difficult to avoid.
When the computing power is reached, there will be a problem of power consumption. And this is exactly the advantage of a dedicated NPU.
The commonly used AI applications, such as Google translation, are relatively small in content, mostly in text, voice and so on. Network transmission will not cause noticeable delay. But if you change images, real-time 30 frames will be passed up, then the data will be returned to the network after processing. Even if the delay can be fixed, the traffic will not be enough for a long time. The local AI hardware solves this problem and can do basic identification. "
That's what HUAWEI often says "end - side AI".
So what is the function of the Kirin 970 AI chip in the photo?
After three generations of chips and four flagship phone training, from the initial use of double ISP and P9 cameras by the first Kirin 950 HUAWEI to Leica's logo for the first time, and now to Mate 10, HUAWEI has been among the first tier companies in mobile phones. In this, the Kirin 970 chip is crucial to the promotion of photography. This is also one of the most important applications of AI in the HUAWEI Mate 10 series.
The professional image evaluation agency has evaluated the photo ability of Mate 10.
"The point of the camera run is also a good thing. It is a recognition of our efforts." "
The experts of Kirin photo team first affirmed the role of the new scoring standard, but he also added that "running points are most concerned about the effect of images." HUAWEI will evaluate the photo experience from two dimensions. One is the whole process of the whole process of response speed, the other is the effect of the image, these two aspects we are working together to move forward. "
While promoting Mate 10 mobile phones, HUAWEI has repeatedly stressed the ability of the Kirin 970 to identify 13 scenes.
For scene recognition, early digital cameras also have, now is still the standard digital camera, motion, scenery, macro, night and so on are the column.
"The original scene recognition is popular. It depends on the color distribution of the whole picture. Through some thresholds, the blue is larger than the number. The initial judgement is the blue sky scene, and then the algorithm is compensated for the blue sky algorithm, so that the color of the blue sky is more natural. But there will be a lot of misjudgments. "
The Kirin photo team's expert first explained to us the basic principle of the traditional camera scene recognition.
"The difference between AI with these algorithms is that it is more like a human to understand the world, with a large number of professional photographers shooting sample data to train, in many aspects of natural environment, delicacy, pet portrait, etc., the recognition accuracy will be very high. It is also possible to distinguish the blue of the sea and the blue of the sky according to the surrounding elements of the scene. We identify 13 scenarios based on the continuous extension and precision enhancement of AI. Each behind is a set of optimized parameters for the photo, the scene A corresponds to the parameter A, and the scene B corresponds to the parameter B. "
There is a keyword in this paragraph, is a professional photographer proofs. We all admire the high-definition pictures taken by the old mages who carry long guns and short guns. They usually do not use automatic mode, but adjust their parameters according to their preferences, plus later ones. Using their picture data to train AI to extract the parameter configuration of the scene recognition, it will naturally have a similar effect.
This just explains what we're doingBefore the shooting proofsIn doubt, Mate 10 iPhone X than in the blue sky, the night has a better sense of atmosphere, attractive color, and the proofs in the large dynamic range of more experience automatic recognition algorithm for reduction of blue color, you can view the following specific proofs.
IPhone X proofs
HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro proofs, non bright mode.
"To do chips, it's hard to prejudge the rhythm."
"Authorizing IP to make chips, to solve a lot of engineering problems.It needs to be made into a chip, put the chip into the phone, and finally be reflected in the application; The AI native applications that can now be experienced, such as photography and noise reduction, are all made by Huawei itself, and more and more third-party applications will follow. It all requires a lot of R & D investment, "said experts from the Kirin Photo team," on each part of a SoC, using IP licenses from other manufacturers or tailoring.
Compared with the busy mobile phone industry, the chip industry behind it is much more cold. Even the flagship SoC of HUAWEI Qualcomm, the opportunity to get concentrated exposure every year is extremely limited.
But chip research and development test a business strategy and technical strength. "Chip from the planning, to make the product, to the mobile phone, the consumer can use, the cycle will be more than two years, close to three years. The development rhythm of the chip is one year plan, one year to develop, a long cycle. "
HUAWEI's current flagship chip Kirin 970, already planned more than two years ago. In fact, the next two generations of chips are on the way.
Earlier, Ai Wei told PingWest to play, ten years as a cell phone chip, and the biggest challenge came from the prejudgment of the rhythm.
"Every generation of us will meet the challenges of engineering, and when we finally come, we find it is too simple to think about it. Every generation is like this, and the interior has been dormant for a few years. We like the 920, 930, from chip 950, 960, 970, the five generation of kylin came, every generation is facing great challenges, and sometimes feel that there is a close call feeling. "
The developer of the HUAWEI chip team has a deeper understanding of this.
"The choice of the process, the choice of the core, including the communication specifications, each point is tread carefully, or do not step on it. If you want to step on, you will not be allowed to step on it." Like those independent commercial mobile phone chip manufacturers can have a series of chips, but we can't do that. We really need to step on the wrong way. It's not our influence, it's the whole HUAWEI mobile. We have no chance of trial and error. "
It is hard to imagine the hardships of the world. But an intuitive result is that the progress and improvement of HUAWEI Unicorn chip is obvious. The progress of performance, baseband, graphics, image and photography is obvious.
When we again asked HUAWEI will give mobile phone chip to sell other brands, Ai Wei's emphatic answer: "not, we don't have a lot of resources. According to the news obtained by PingWest product, HUAWEI is responsible for the development of Qilin mobile chip, which is about 1/5 of the opponent's strength. The strength of its work can be repaired by itself.
(respondents should be required, the hidden camera the kylin expert team name.)