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Chinese x86 CPU Vendor Zhaoxin To Introduce New Discrete GPUs

Zhaoxin logo
(Image credit: Zhaoxin)

China-based Zhaoxin is best known for its homegrown x86 processors, but according to a report from cnTechPost, the company recently teased a new low-cost 70W discrete GPU in a video posted to its newly-redesigned website. The video has since been removed, but the website grabbed a snip of the company's roadmap, which lists the new stand-alone 70W GPU that will be fabbed using TSMC's 28nm process. 

(Image credit: cnTechPost)

Zhaoxin is best known for its CPUs, like the KaiXin CPU we recently tested, that are designed entirely in China. The company is backed by Chinese government-controlled interests, with the state-owned Shanghai SASAC owning 80% of the company while VIA, which provides the x86 license, owns 20% of the company. 

The company didn't reveal many details of the GPU, though we know it will slot into a relatively low 70W TDP and come with TSMC's 28nm process. The GPU will purportedly come to market later this year. The company's use of the 28nm process obviously lags the industry norm, with stalwarts like AMD and Nvidia already moving on to TSMC's 7nm tech, but that could be due to the threat of potential US sanctions that could prevent TSMC from providing 16nm and smaller processes to its China customers on the grounds that the newer processes are based on US IP.

It's unclear how Zhaoxin would be able to produce a full-fledged and competitive GPU without infringing on graphics IP from AMD, Nvidia, or Intel. However, as we covered in our KaiXan review, Zhaoxin's parent company VIA has access (via a previous acquisition) to graphics IP from S3 graphics. 

Zhaoxin KaiXan CPU Platform - GPU Performance
Dota 2 (Lowest fidelity settings)1280x7201920x1080
Zhaoxin KX-U6780A DDR4-2133 (HP Driver)19 fps17 fps
Zhaoxin KX-U6780A DDR4-2666 (HP Driver)20.6 fps17 fps
Core i5-7400 (UHD 630)104.9 fps85 fps

Zhaoxin also has integrated graphics units for its CPU platform, though the GPUs are embedded in the chipset. Our tests found these graphics units to be woefully inadequate compared to the integrated graphics on competing CPUs, even Intel's lackluster UHD 630, but extending that architecture out to a larger die with a higher TDP envelope would obviously improve performance. However, we wouldn't expect the new graphics cards to eclipse even older AMD and Nvidia graphics cards. 

Zhaoxin's existing iGPUs support DX11, OpenCL 1.1, and OpenGL 3.2 and features hardware-accelerated video encoding and decoding, but details are scarce and GPU monitoring applications couldn't scrape any further details on the architectural components. The integrated graphics support DisplayPort, eDP, HDMI and VGA interfaces and can simultaneously output to two screens at a 4K resolution. 

Given the 70W TDP envelope, it's conceivable that these cards will be destined for low-cost desktop systems, thus providing China a possible alternative if the US-China tradewar intensifies. 

We've reached out to Zhaoxin and will update as necessary. 

  • JamesSneed
    This is VIA's way back into being relevant. May work out.
    Reply
  • nobspls
    How many years has been since AMD can finally compete. 2006 is when the first core 2 duo were out. It is 2020 and AMD can finally say Ryzen3 is competitive enough. Well give China/Zhaoxin/VIA 14 plus years, pretty sure they can get competitive too so somwhere around 2035 or so. Even if the bootleg copy rip-off stuff from all over, if they price it cheap enough you can be sure that Intel/AMD/nVidia will have a hard time in the China market. And you can bet they will export out just like Huawei and compete in the western markets. Just like Hyundai which made cheap crap in 1986, by 2000 they were making acceptably cheap cars, and now 20 years after that they are more than competitive. Everyone should know this is the long game that being played, and China is probably more than willing to bank roll the whole operation and use this to entrench their spying capability all over the world.
    Reply
  • gg83
    I wonder if x86 will be dead by the time via/China can reach parity with the big guys. With risc-v and ARMs architecture maturing fast, it will be exciting in 10 to 15 years.
    Reply
  • gg83
    I think these companies are releasing anything to appear like they don't need western IP
    Reply
  • watzupken
    gg83 said:
    I think these companies are releasing anything to appear like they don't need western IP

    That is what I think too. Even if it is very slow, it seems the objective is blindly just to show that they can be independent from western technology. It is going to be a problem for China if you imagine switching from an Intel CPU to a Zhaoxin CPU.
    While I agree they need to take the first step, but to truly be technologically independent without a significant regression, that may take a lot more years than their ambitious plan.
    Reply
  • yeeeeman
    This is done to make China non-dependant of external technology and frankly it is a great idea. How US wants to not be dependant on China tech, then likewise, China has this right. And it will make it a reality faster than many believe.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    This will be cheap! That is the point. No need to complain that GPUs cost too much. You most likely can get these below $100!
    Well the gpu in apu can be faster, but these will be cheaper than disgrete Nvidia, amd or Intel GPUs!
    ;)
    Reply
  • artk2219
    Drivers. With GPU's and most computer peripherals its honestly more than a question of "Is the hardware decent enough". If product x can theoretically match product y in performance, but it cant actually do it in whatever application your using because the drivers suck (or in the case of a few driver revisions in the past, brick the OS), then it doesnt matter what theoretical performance it offers. So even if they get decent enough hardware out the door, i doubt they'll have decent enough drivers for atleast a few years because they just dont have the breadth of experience that the other manufacturers do. Ten years from now though? We'll just have to wait and see.
    Reply
  • gg83
    hannibal said:
    This will be cheap! That is the point. No need to complain that GPUs cost too much. You most likely can get these below $100!
    Well the gpu in apu can be faster, but these will be cheaper than disgrete Nvidia, amd or Intel GPUs!
    ;)
    If they can make a cpu and a discrete gpu for less than an apu from AMD/Intel, then it could work. But then AMD/Intel could just lower their prices. I think it will come down to which other countries chose to stay faithful to China or the US. And put money into R & D
    Reply