The processors understand the code in binary, however, not all understand the same code when executing the instructions. This is due to the fact that each family has its own set of registers and instructions, also known as ISA. Well, the most used in PC is what we call x86 and we usually relate it to AMD Intel. However, there is a third brand, unknown to the Western public and baptized as Zhaoxin.
In the 1990s, despite Intel’s iron-fisted dominance of processors, you could find three different x86 processor manufacturers. Two of them still exist and they are Intel and AMD. Instead, the third was named after Cyrix, which eventually disappeared to be absorbed by VIA Technologies and today, despite its American origins, is the largest designer of x86 chips in China.
What company is Zhaoxin?
Well, Zhaoxin is a typical Chinese company, so it has a private company share in combination with a public company. Being the product of a joint venture between VIA and Shanghai Municipal Government. His work? Chip building with ISA x86 for laptops and desktops. So it is one of the tools that the greatest Asian superpower has to acquire total independence from the US. And who knows if in the future it will even stand up to the US duopoly.
And what is the performance of your processors?
The strategy of cutting off the last manufacturing nodes from Chinese companies has been a disadvantage for the Chinese company, since it does not have the same tools. Let’s not forget that have to use the SMIC foundryand specifically his 16nm node, for the creation of its chips that it is several generations behind TSMC. So this limits the ability of what they can do. However, it is not bad to take a look to find out what the performance of these, for us, unknown and inaccessible PC chips is.
And it is that hehe Zhaoxin CPUs are only sold in China and are at the level of that country a product that is manufactured and consumed within its borders. Whether for home computers or servers. And what performance can we expect from them? Well, their most powerful processor is the KH-4000 for servers made up of 16 cores without multithreading capability and running at 2.7 GHz with a 100W TDP. As for the size of the cache, this is 4 MB for the second level and 32 MB for the third level.
Its performance and power is equivalent to an AMD EPYC 7601, that is, a first-generation Zen architecture processor. So we are talking about a gap of 5 years in terms of performance and power. However, if we take into account the smaller manufacturing node used, it is clear that its performance is not bad either.
Are they competitive against Intel and AMD CPUs?
In the West, it would eat the ground against the options of Intel and AMD, but at least China has a countermeasure in case they stop providing chips due to some type of commercial blockade. In addition, it also allows them to supply them to their geopolitical allies. It is possible that some Zhaoxin processor is on some server of some political enemy of the United States. Not long ago we told you that they have become a supplier of processors for the Russian Federation.
All of this leads us to the next question: what would have happened if they had had access to TSMC’s 7nm node and there was no block to the use of the technology?