Update 05/19 5:05 pm PT: A representative from Zhaoxin has confirmed to Tom's Hardware that the company only focuses on business in China. Zhaoxin has no intention thus far to sell its products to other countries. Zhaoxin has also sent out announcements to its partners to emphasize the company's policy and to ensure that they understand Zhaoxin's policy.
Now that AMD and Intel do not officially sell their processors in Russia, the country has to find replacements to not find itself in the stone age one day. This week Dannie (opens in new tab), a motherboard maker with offices in Russia, China, Lithuania, and Turkey, introduced its new motherboard based on Zhaoxin's system-on-chip. While this chip can barely compete against modern CPUs from AMD and Intel, it is compatible with the vast majority of apps and OSes, so it can indeed replace these processors.
Dannie's MBX-Z60A micro-ATX motherboard features Zhaoxin's eight-core KaiXian KX-6640MA system-on-chip featuring the LuJiaZui microarchitecture, a 4MB of L2 cache, and a frequency of 2.10 GHz – 2.70 GHz. In addition, the SoC features a built-in graphics processor, 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, a built-on SATA controller, an integrated USB 3.0 controller, and other essential I/O technologies. Since the chip caters to desktops and laptops, its maximum thermal design power does not exceed 25W.
As for specifications of the MBX-Z60A motherboard, it carries two memory slots for DDR4 memory and has two PCIe x16 slots for add-in-boards, one M.2-2280 slot for SSDs, an M.2-2230 slot for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth adapters, and three SATA ports, reports Habr (opens in new tab). External I/O connections are concerned; the platform has USB ports, display outputs (a DisplayPort, an HDMI, and a VGA/D-Sub), a GbE connector, 3.5-mm audio input/output, and even PS/2 ports.
From a performance point of view, the KaiXian KX-6640MA is slower than the KaiXian KX-U6780A processor that sits higher in the product stack and which we tested a couple of years ago. Still, the lower-end one is probably cheaper too, which is essential for many clients, particularly those who only run office applications and do not need serious performance anyway.
One of the advantages that processors developed by Zhaoxin, a joint venture between Via Technologies and the Shanghai Municipal Government, have over other CPUs designed in China because they feature the x86 instruction set architecture. Therefore, they are compatible with dozens of operating systems (including Windows) and tens of thousands of apps. As a result, while processors developed by Zhaoxin are tangibly slower when compared to CPUs from AMD and Intel, they have still been deemed an alternative because of compatibility.
In fact, in the recent quarters, we saw the growing adoption of Zhaoxin's CPUs by international brands amid a tight supply of low-end SoCs by AMD and Intel. Qnap introduced a NAS based on a Zhaoxin CPU about a year ago. Then Lenovo chose one of such chips for its thin-and-light machine aimed at the Chinese market and designed for government and government-controlled companies that need to use software intended solely in China.
Will Dannie's MBX-Z60A motherboard relies on Zhaoxin's eight-core KaiXian KX-6640MA SoC to help Russia reduce the consequences of international sanctions and lack of AMD and Intel CPUs? For some applications, probably yes. Dannie can produce 'tens of thousands of motherboards per month,' which should be enough to meet demand from various government institutions for a while. For Zhaoxin, additional sales are a benefit. But for any performance-demanding workloads, Zhaoxin's SoCs will not be able to replace CPUs from AMD and Intel.