Chinese chipmaker Loongson Technology has held a performance briefing (opens in new tab) on its upcoming fourth-generation 3A6000 CPU, which has completed its design phase and is now entering production. The first samples of the chip, which is expected to approach Ryzen 5000 levels of performance according to Loongson, should be available in the first half of 2023.
Ryzen 5000, let’s not forget, is Zen 3 technology, roughly on a par with Intel’s 11th generation chips from 2020. Loongson’s LoongArch processor architecture, however, isn’t compatible with X86 code, instead mashing together bits of MIPS and RISC with custom instructions that may help with the emulation of other systems. Introduced in 2021, it primarily uses Linux for an operating system.
The performance claim comes from Loongson’s internal simulation testing, using the SPEC CPU 2006 benchmark that was retired by its maker (opens in new tab) in 2019. The 3A6000 chip offers a 68% improvement (opens in new tab) in single-core floating-point performance over its predecessor, the 3A5000 (opens in new tab), which if correct is quite impressive and matches claims made back in June (opens in new tab). The chips will be built on a 12nm process (Zen 3 was a mix of 7nm CCD chiplets with a 14nm IOD chiplet), but it’s not clear who will be making the chips as Loongson Technology is a fabless company.
Software support for the chips is also in the works, with Loongson Technology chairman Hu Weiwu, speaking at the 2022 Information Technology Independent Innovation Summit Forum in Nanjing, committing to the creation of Linux-based desktops and applications. China is attempting to rid its computing ecosystem of foreign technology (opens in new tab), just as the United States has introduced export controls (opens in new tab) to prevent the country from getting hold of advanced smarts.
While it’s hoped that the 3A6000 and follow-up 3A7000 will become mainstream products, Weiwu also launched the Loongson 100-Core Project at the forum. Current Loongson server chips have 16 cores (opens in new tab), with 64-core products not expected until 2015, so 100 cores may still be some time in the future.