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China-Based Zhaoxin Targets 2021 for 7nm CPUs With PCIe 4.0, DDR5 Support

(Image credit: Dmitriy Rybin/Shutterstock)

As reported by WikiChip Fuse this week, Chinese CPU maker Zhaoxin has outlined the designs for its next-generation KaiXian and KaiSheng processors. This reveal comes on the heels of a Bloomberg report this fall that China is pushing hard to decrease the country's dependency on U.S. technology.

Zhaoxin has two primary product lines. The KaiXian chips are designed for the consumer market, while the KaiSheng processors are tailored towards the server market. Zhaoxin's existing KaiXian KX-6000 and KaiSheng KH-30000 series are on the outdated 16nm process node. However, the Chinese company expects to reach parity with Intel and AMD by 2021.

KaiXian KX-7000: Marching to PCIe 4.0 and DDR5

Current KaiXian KX-6000 processors are based on the LuJiaZui microarchitecture and produced with TSMC's 16nm manufacturing process. The chips max out at eight cores and feature base clocks up to 3 GHz. However, the upcoming KX-7000 chips will seemingly employ a new processor microarchitecture, which Zhaoxin hasn't unveiled yet. 

TSMC is reportedly in charge of producing the KX-7000 chips for Zhaoxin with the foundry's 7nm process node. Going from 16nm to 7nm is a pretty big jump and should allow Zhaoxin to squeeze more megahertz into the KX-7000 chips. If the new microarchitecture is legit, Zhaoxin should be able to close the performance gap between it and Intel or AMD.

The 7nm KX-7000 parts are expected to come with a new iGPU (integrated graphics processing unit) that's compatible with DirectX 12, as well as support for the latest PCIe 4.0 interface, (which Intel chips don't support yet), and DDR5 RAM.

According to WikiChip, Zhaoxin has started working on sub-7nm designs for several mobile and desktop CPUs as well. The Chinese semiconductor company is keeping a tight lip on the details. However, the publication believes that Zhaoxin could hit TSMC up for its N5 or N5P manufacturing process.

KaiSheng KH-40000: Leaping to 32 Cores

Similar to Zhaoxin's consumer offerings, the existing KH-30000 chips feature the same LuJiaZui microarchitecture and 16nm node. They sport up to eight cores and base clocks up to 2.7 GHz. The KH-40000 series will be the direct replacement and debut with a new and improved microarchitecture. 

Sadly, the KH-40000 will be stuck on the 16nm process node. Nonetheless, Zhaoxin is promising to quadruple the core count from eight to 32 cores. This would effectively put the KH-40000 on the same ground as AMD's Threadripper chips - at least from a core perspective. It remains to be seen how the Zhaoxin's new microarchitecture fairs against its rivals.

The KH-40000 processors seemingly come with dual-socket support, so it will be possible to combine two of them for the possibility to have up to 64 cores in a single system. The 16nm chip's other attributes include continued use of DDR4 RAM and the PCIe 3.0 interface.