After the fall of Matrox Graphics, S3 Graphics, and XGI in the mid-2000s, no companies have competently challenged AMD and Nvidia in the field of discrete graphics cards for PCs. But with the rise of special-purpose-datacenter GPUs, mining GPUs, and gaming, numerous rivals for the two mighty GPU designers emerged. For example, this week Chinese company Xindong Technology announced its Fenghua GPU aimed at gaming PCs and datacenters.
Xindong may not be a household name, but it seems to be a very ambitious GPU developer from China that wants to compete against considerably bigger players. The company recently successfully tested its first Fenghua No. 1 graphics processing unit developed entirely in-house and then designed by Innosilicon, a contract chip designer.
The Fenghua No. 1 seems to be a multi-chiplet GPU with a GDDR6X-based memory subsystem that supports all modern (and legacy) application programming interfaces for graphics and compute, including DirectX, Vulkan, OpenGL, OpenCL, and even OpenGL ES. It can also work with Android, Linux, and Windows. The chip uses a PCIe Gen4 interface to connect to the host and can output graphics using DisplayPort, eDP 1.4, and HDMI 2.1 interfaces, just like today's best graphics cards.
Xindong yet has to disclose performance levels one can expect from its GPU, but it says it plans to use its GPU for desktops, cloud games, cloud mobile games, Xinchuang desktop, and workstations. This positioning seems very self-confident since it is relatively easy to make GPUs process select workloads in the datacenter. Still, it is much harder to make them work flawlessly across dozens of games and applications used by gamers at home.
Furthermore, multi-GPU rendering (which is probably what Xingdong means by implementing a multi-chiplet GPU) is very tricky with today's games and rendering techniques. Neither AMD nor Nvidia support CrossFireX and SLI technologies on their most recent gaming GPUs.
At present, we have no idea whether Xindong's Fenghua GPU will be a viable competitor for AMD's Radeon and Nvidia's GeForce. Still, at least there is one more rival (in addition to Intel, Phytium, Zhaoxin, and a number of others that design datacenter and HPC GPUs) for these two graphics giants.
It is important to note that the Fenghua No. 1 is far from the first custom GPU designed by contract chip developer Innosilicon. Last year the company demonstrated a datacenter GPU, and we also know that the company has some Ethereum accelerators.