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Chinese Loongson chips coming in 2023, on par with 2020 x86 kit

Homegrown chips remain behind for now, but for how much longer?

China is set to get its hands on homegrown processors next year that purportedly rival the performance of AMD and Intel chips released over the past two years

Chinese semiconductor company Loongson recently announced that its next-generation Godson CPU, the 3A6000, will sample with customers in the first half of 2023, according to a Chinese-language news report. That means a launch could follow later in the year.

Previous reports have indicated that Loongson's 3A6000 processor will allegedly provide performance that is on par with AMD's Ryzen 5000 CPUs and Intel's 11th-Gen Core CPUs, which both debuted in 2020.

This expectation is based on simulation test results provided by Loongson showing that the 3A6000 will improve single-core fixed-point performance by 37 percent and single-core floating-point performance by 68 percent over the previous-generation 3A5000, based on the SPEC CPU 2006 benchmark. As always, claims made by vendors should be taken with a grain of salt, and one benchmark is not indicative of how a processor will perform across a wide range of applications.

If the 3A6000's performance comes anywhere close to what Loongson claims, it means China is still quite behind when compared to the latest x86 processors from Intel and AMD, which released their latest Ryzen 7000 processors and 13th-Gen Core processors, respectively, this fall.

However, the performance claims also show how China has progressed with processor technology that is based on the homegrown, MIPS-compatible LoongArch instruction set architecture. The company has previously claimed that its chips feature circuitry that helps with the emulation and binary translation of non-Loongson instruction sets such as x86 and Arm, as we have previously reported.

Hu Weiwu, chairman of Loongson, said last week that his company plans to build out a software ecosystem that will allow Chinese users to run more applications on the LoongArch ISA natively, rather than relying on emulation or translation of other ISAs.

Homegrown chips have become increasingly important to China as the company deals with a growing stack of export restrictions pushed by the US. The latest restrictions include a block on semiconductor equipment that could be used to make logic chips with a 16nm process or smaller, DRAM chips at 18nm or smaller, and NAND flash with 128 or more layers. ®

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