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Chinese-Produced Zhaoxin KX-6000 CPUs Purportedly Match Intel's Core i5-7400

(Image credit: Twitter - David Schor Wikichip)

Late last year, the China-based processor designer Zhaoxin Semiconductor (jointly owned by the Shangai government and VIA Technologies, another semiconductor corporation) promised its upcoming octa-core CPUs based on the 16nm node from TSMC would be able to match Intel's quad-core i5 processors, and today is that day: the newly-announced KX-6000 CPUs are said to deliver performance on par with the Core i5-7400, yet supposedly pull off the feat at a mere 3 GHz. And they support Windows. While this level of performance may not seem very impressive, it is actually a very significant development for a few reasons.

Companies like VIA and Zhaoxin are eager to compete with Intel, AMD, IBM, and others because China wants its own processors, not only to compete within its own borders but also to compete abroad and reduce the country's exposure to outside influence. The international CPU scene is dominated by American companies like Intel, AMD, and IBM, among others. For both political reasons (such as self-determination and independence) and economic reasons, the prospect of China producing and exporting profitable and powerful processors is enticing.

Zhaoxin Semiconductor

It's also a significant technological achievement for Zhaoxin. Any kind of CPU that can compete with Intel on any field is impressive since Intel is at the top of the hierarchy in both size and technology. Intel's traditional rival AMD and the more server- and specialist-focused IBM are Intel's only real competition; it would certainly shake up the dynamic if Zhaoxin could field competitive processors for the x86 market. The Core i5-7400 isn't Intel's fastest desktop CPU by any means (not even when it launched in 2017), but it is one of the fastest desktop CPUs made by any company today. Even AMD's first-gen Ryzen CPUs struggled against it in single-threaded workloads.

Lenovo already uses previous-gen Zhoaxin processors in some notebooks, and benchmarks have popped up in public databases, meaning the chips are more than just a pipe dream. Zhaoxin is also similarly planning on launching competitive server CPUs (the KH-40000 series), but on the 7nm node from TSMC with PCIe 4.0 and DDR5 support. Zhaoxin hasn't said exactly when these CPUs would arrive, but it will be a little while since it is slated to use upcoming DDR5 memory.