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China-Made Zhaoxin CPU Hits Retail Market

KaiXian KX-U6780A (Image credit: 二斤自制/YouTube)

Zhaoxin, based in Shanghai, has its domestically produced KX-6000-series processors ready for prime time. The x86 chips are already listed on Chinese e-commerce website Taobao and are scheduled to launch as soon as March of this year.

The KaiXian KX-U6780A is based on the LuJiaZui microarchitecture. It's rated with a 70W TDP (thermal design power) and sports eight cores and eight threads clocked at 2.7 GHz. The processor has 8MB of L2 cache but lacks L3 cache. TSMC produces the KX-U6780A for Zhaoxin with the foundry's 16nm process node.

Like your typical mainstream processor, the KX-U6780A has a dual-channel memory controller. The chip supports DirectX 11 graphics, modern interfaces, such as M.2, PCIe 3.0, SATA and USB 3.1, and instruction sets including SSE 4.2 and AVX.

The KX-U6780A comes wrapped in BGA packaging, but, thankfully, Shenzhen Cjoyin Electronics has developed the C1888 mini-ITX motherboard for the eight-core processor. 

KaiXian KX-U6780A + C1888 Combo

Chinese YouTube channel 二斤自制 got its hands on the KX-U6780A and C1888 combo. The C1888 in the video is an engineering sample, so the final specifications will differ a bit.

The C1888 motherboard currently features an old-school green PCB, but will also be available in white after its official release. Additionally, the manufacturer plans to add a power button and standardize the motherboard holes for mainstream CPU coolers.

The C1888 features two DDR4 SO-DIMMs that support DDR4-3200 RAM. It also provides an mSATA and SATA port for storage. 

Motherboard-maker Shenzhen Cjoyin claims that the C1888 supports the NVMe protocol and that it will add an M.2 slot to the finished product to accommodate high-speed SSDs.

C1888 Motherboard

C1888 motherboard (Image credit: Shenzhen Cjoyin Electronics)

The C1888 comes with an Embedded DisplayPort (eDP) and two COM interfaces. There's also a slot for a PCIe wireless network card. Similar to other mini-ITX motherboards, the C1888 only has one PCIe 3.0 expansion slot. Unfortunately, it's wired to operate at x8.

Connectivity options on the C1888 include one front USB 2.0 header, one HDMI port, one VGA port, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and three 3.5mm audio jacks.

According to the video, the KX-U6780A and C1888's maximum power consumption amounts to 90W. The motherboard draws power through a DC power connector and 4-pin power connector. However, the final product will drop the 4-pin power connector in favor of the standard 24-pin. The motherboard will retain the DC power connector for the convenience of small form factor (SFF) users.

KaiXian KX-U6780A Benchmarks

In order to measure the progress of China's domestic processors, the KX-U6780A is pitched against the previous KX-C4580. As a recap, the KX-U6780A has eight cores and eight threads running at 2.7 GHz, while the KX-C4580 only has four cores and four threads at 1.83 GHz.

Thanks to its four additional cores and higher clock speeds, the KX-U6780A showed some big performance improvements over the KX-C4580. In the multi-thread benchmarks, the eight-core chip outperformed the quad-core part by over 200%. In terms of single-core improvement, the KX-U6780A is up to 171% faster.

KX-C4580KX-U6780ADifference
Cinebench R20228845270%
CPU-Z Single Thread63.1171171%
CPU-Z Multi Thread445.61395.8213%
Fritz Chess Benchmark29339919238%

Based on these results, the KX-U6780A should be slower than an Intel Core i5-7600K. Intel's quad-core chip delivers up to 180% and 32% higher performance than the KX-U6780A on the single-and multi-thread tests with the CPU-Z benchmark, respectively.

The current generation of Zhaoxin chips are still admittedly behind the likes of Intel and AMD. Nevertheless, the Chinese chipmaker has ambitious plans to catch up to its rivals by 2021.

The tech YouTube channel also paired the KX-U6780A with an aftermarket RTX 2060 Super graphics card for a couple of gaming tests.

It should be emphasized that the test system is running on an engineering sample of the C1888 motherboard. As a result, the processor and graphics card usage are somewhat low because the motherboard limits the power of the PCIe 3.0 slot. The manufacturer will remove the restriction for the final product so that the graphics card will have more room to maximize its potential.

In any case, the results showed the KX-U6780A working with the RTX 2060 Super capable of maintaining 60 frames per second (fps) and above in the games tested. However, we would love to see how the couple holds up in the more processor-intensive games.

KX-C4580KX-U6780A
Chinese Parents?60 fps
Risk of Rain 2?60 fps
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive20 fps (720p)60 fps (1080p)

The final pricing for the KX-U6780A with the C1888 motherboard is unknown. The bundle is currently up for pre-order for 4,300 yuan ( ~$620) Taobao, and it's limited to 55 units.

  • artk2219
    I would love to see a comparison vs AMD's FX line.
    Reply
  • NightHawkRMX
    Hmm, even though this is a Chinese CPU, it probably has fewer security vulnerabilities than Intel at this point.
    Reply
  • GoatGuy
    NightHawkRMX said:
    Hmm, even though this is a Chinese CPU, it probably has fewer security vulnerabilities than Intel at this point.

    While technically true, one can be almost completely certain that it also has additional Chinese Government Back-Door vulnerabilities. Like 99 out of 100 chances.
    Just saying,
    GoatGuy
    Reply
  • CrisCo71
    That price is laughable - it's B450 w/Ryzen 5 3600, 16GB RAM and an Nvidia 1660 territory...
    Reply
  • Giroro
    NightHawkRMX said:
    Hmm, even though this is a Chinese CPU, it probably has fewer security vulnerabilities than Intel at this point.

    In Chinese, security vulnerability is spelt
    辅助功能增强
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    artk2219 said:
    I would love to see a comparison vs AMD's FX line.
    Well, checking some numbers online, it looks like 2012's 8-thread FX-8350 at stock clocks typically scores close to 1300 at Cinebench R20 multi-core, and around 1500 overclocked, compared to 845 for this processor, making that older FX chip around 50% faster at stock. The margins in CPU-Z's single-thread test look similar. The FX processor is also clocked around 50% higher though, so that difference may be mostly down to clock-rates rather than IPC.

    As for current parts, it looks like AMD's 4-core, 8-thread 3400G Zen+ APU scores close to 2000 at Cinebench R20 multicore, with a similar difference in CPU-Z single core, making it close to 150% faster. Of course, there's also the 6-core, 12-thread 1600 AF (basically a slightly underclocked 2600) available in the US market for just $85 now, which scores over 2800 in R20 multicore. And the Zen2-based 3600 scores around 3700 points in that test, well over four times as fast at that multithreaded workload, and around 500 in CPU-Z single-threaded, around three times as fast.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    NightHawkRMX said:
    Hmm, even though this is a Chinese CPU, it probably has fewer security vulnerabilities than Intel at this point.
    It is highly unlikely that AMD's CPUs are exempt of any such flaw, the question is whether they will be discovered within the architecture's useful life if ever. Intel's biggest problem here is that it has been reusing mostly the same architecture for nearly 10 years, so most flaws have a pretty good probability of affecting a large chunk of all of Intel's CPUs from the past decade. That's a ridiculously large attack surface area on chips that account for ~80% of the market for hackers to work and cash in on.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    InvalidError said:
    It is highly unlikely that AMD's CPUs are exempt of any such flaw,
    Leaving aside your claim, why are you even talking about AMD?

    This is made in partnership with VIA, meaning it uses Centaur's x86 cores. Nothing to do with AMD.

    Edit: I'm not sure about the Centaur part, as Anandtech and WikiChip both describe its LuJiaZui cores as an in-house design. Wikichip says of its predecessor:

    WuDaoKou is largely a brand new architecture designed by Zhaoxin. This is a departure from earlier microarchitectures such as ZhangJiang which were a lightly modified version of VIA Technologies (Centaur) architecture.

    So, it sounds like the previous & current core designs might be truly 100% Chinese designs.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    bit_user said:
    Leaving aside your claim, why are you even talking about AMD?

    This is made in partnership with VIA, meaning it uses Centaur's x86 cores. Nothing to do with AMD.
    My comment was regarding the Intel part of the comment I was replying to, though it is generally pretty safe to assume that any highly complex chip is going to have some number of bugs that manage to sneak by engineers, especially when they involve side-channel type exposure which can be extremely difficult to foresee at the design stage.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Do we know anything about its iGPU?

    Edit: Wikichip mentions S3, since I guess VIA bought its IP. If it has anything to do with S3, it's probably unrelated to their graphics chipsets from the old days. Anyway, it seems the graphics are on-die.

    This is actually the entry from its predecessor: https://en.wikichip.org/wiki/zhaoxin/microarchitectures/wudaokou
    Edit 2: It's rumored to be the VIA C-960, which is derived from S3's Chrome series.
    Reply