Loongson has become yet another Chinese GPU designer as it rolled out a new chipset with built-in graphics capabilities for its quad-core 3A5000 and 16-core 3C5000 processors. The new iGPU has capabilities comparable to graphics chips from 2004 ~ 2005, but it offers sufficient performance in office workloads.
Loongson's 7A2000 bridge chip (aka chipset) integrates an OpenGL 2.1/OpenGL ES 2.0-compliant GPU that works at 400 MHz ~ 500 MHz, supporting up to two displays with a 1920x1080@60Hz or 2560x1440x30Hz resolution over two HDMI connections (or an HDMI and a D-Sub/VGA connection).
Based on data from Loongson, the GPU scores 300 FPS in GLMark2, a benchmark from 2004 ~ 2005, and 1,800 FPS in Glxgears, a performance testing program from 1999 ~ 2000. Unfortunately, the manufacturer does not disclose which operating system it used or how it compiled the benchmark. In addition, it is noteworthy that the GPU does not support even basic DirectX features and, therefore, can't even Windows 7.
The iGPU is said to be an in-house design, and we are not surprised by this since both Arm and Imagination have inexpensive GPU IP blocks that offer a much more sophisticated feature set. However, developing a low-end in-house GPU may make a lot of sense for Loongson.
The 7A2000 chipset is designed for Loongson's 3-series processors that use proprietary LoongArch architecture and therefore require an operating system and software that support this architecture. Instead of rewriting third-party drivers for Loongson's platform, designing a low-end GPU and developing drivers in-house may be easier. At the end of the day, Loongson's customers are various government or local authorities-run organizations that see China-developed IP as a huge benefit even if it is years behind equivalents designed in Europe or the U.S.
Other features of the 7A2000 core logic include PCIe 3.0, SATA 6 Gbps, USB 3.0, GbE PHY, UART, and even GPIO if someone wants to connect something fancy to a Loongson-based platform.
Another notable improvement of the 7A2000 mentioned by Loongson is the fact that the CPU and chipset are now connected using a HyperTransport 3.1 32-bit interface at 3.2 GT/s, which improved PCIe bandwidth by 2.4 times as well as SATA read/write performance by 82%/97% when compared to the previous generation Loongson 7A1000 chipset.
Loongson says that multiple motherboard makers and ODMs have already developed numerous boards featuring a quad-core 3A5000 processor with a 7A2000 chipset and a 16-core 3C5000/3C5000L CPU with a 7A2000 chipset.