Lenovo brings virtualization, cloud stack to Chinese chip designer Loongson's CPU arch

NAS slingers, healthcare software makers, government buyers join the march to silicon sovereignty

Chinese chip shop Loongson, which has built modest CPUs based on its own MIPS-like architecture, is on the march towards enterprise workloads.

The silicon slinger yesterday announced that 53 software developers have created 105 products compatible with its instruction set architecture (ISA).

Lenovo is one of the listed vendors. Loongson's list includes a server virtualization platform, a hyperconverged stack, and a cloud management product from the Chinese hardware maker.

The list of products also includes vertical applications for the healthcare industry, a database, blockchain management tools, data security products, and backup apps.

If the abovementioned software can run inside Lenovo's cloudy or virtualized environments, Loongson has a shot at enterprise buyers in China – assuming such prospects are happy to run the relatively modest silicon the Chinese chip designer has created. Loongson's current flagship device is the 16-core, 2.5GHz, 64-bit model LS3C5000.

A rumored successor, the LS3C6000, will reportedly match the performance of AMD's Zen 3 cores – launched in 2020.

Loongson deliberately eschews compatabiilty with either x86 or Arm in favour tech inspired by the permissively-licensed MIPS and RISC-V ISAs.

It's been a good couple of weeks for the Chinese chip designer, which has also announced adoption of its silicon by a vendor of network-attached storage devices. Such machines don't place enormous demands on CPUs, and aren't a market with much upside – given increasing adoption of cloud computing. Finding another application for its wares is, however, an uncomplicated positive for Loongson.

As is the news from last week that "nearly one thousand" desktops running on Loongson CPUs have found a home in one district of the city of Fuzhou.

China has expressed an increasingly urgent desire to replace Western tech with domestic creations – a decision driven by a policy objective to grow local industry, plus acceptance that developing indigenous tech is necessary. US-led sanctions mean the latest and greatest computing kit will likely not be allowed into the Middle Kingdom any time soon.

The likes of Lenovo ensuring its wares run on Loongson's architecture is an important step towards making Made-in-China hardware more able to satisfy users' needs, and therefore a more viable replacement to current enterprise tech estates as they age out and require replacement.

Which will irritate the likes of AMD and Intel. China's clouds, governments, and big enterprises – like its two telcos with a billion customers apiece – are customers of a size that is hard to find anywhere else.

Lenovo's appearance on Loongson's list of compatible software is therefore significant. ®

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