Zhaoxin Shows Off 8-Core x86 CPU at 3GHz, Built on 16nm FinFET

Normally, when we talk about the x86 market, we’re talking about two companies: Intel and AMD. If Intel had its way, there’d be just one company, of course. The efforts Chipzilla took to strip AMD of its x86 license went all the way to the Supreme Court before being swatted down. Today, these two firms dominate more than 99 percent of the combined market for x86 CPUsSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce, with Intel holding the majority share.

But to quote a certain green-skinned Jedi Master, “There is another.” VIA Technologies has its own x86 license and its partnered with the Chinese government to create Zhaoxin, (the name means “trillion core”), a joint venture dedicated to producing homegrown x86 chips. The new KX-6000 CPU core is a successor to the KX-5000 announced earlier this year. A chart comparing the two, courtesy of Anandtech, is shown below:

Not much is known about the internal architectures of these CPUs. Historically, the chips out of Zhaoxin have closely echoed VIA’s own efforts. The company has released cores based on VIA’s Isaiah and later QuadCore architectures, but the WuDaoKou architecture (which the KX-5000 is based on) was its first in-house project. It was expected to deliver 25 percent higher IPS, 140 percent better performance in multi-threaded workloads, a smaller pipeline, improved OoOE engine, better branch prediction, and new execution unit balancing. The KX-6000 is based on an evolved version of the WuDaoKou architecture, known as LuJiaZui. Both cores use just two memory channels, a configuration that could cost it some performance if the architecture isn’t well-balanced.

Details on LuJiaZui are hard to come by, as the chart above implies. WikiChip states that the CPU should deliver up to 50 percent improved performance on the basis of its clock increase. DDR4 is now supported rather than DDR3 and memory controller performance is also said to have improved. There’s not much to go on as far as how fast these chips are, but I did find some Geekbench 4 results for the KX-U5580.

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