Zhaoxin

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Shanghai Zhaoxin Semiconductor Co., Ltd.
IndustrySemiconductors
Founded2013; 8 years ago (2013)
Headquarters,
Area served
China
ProductsCentral processing units
Microprocessors
Websitezhaoxin.com

Zhaoxin (Shanghai Zhaoxin Semiconductor Co., Ltd.[1] Chinese: 兆芯; pinyin: Zhàoxīn) is a fabless semiconductor company, created in 2013 as a joint venture between VIA Technologies and the Shanghai Municipal Government.[2] The company creates x86-compatible CPUs.[3] The term Zhào xīn means million core.[note 1] The processors are created mainly for the Chinese market: the venture is an attempt to reduce the Chinese dependence on foreign technology.[4][5]

Background[edit]

Zhaoxin is a joint venture between VIA Technologies and the Shanghai Municipal Government.[2] In 2021 it was reported that VIA has a 14.75% shareholding in the company.[6] China has a domestic policy to "replace all foreign hardware and software from its public infrastructure with homegrown solutions".[7] VIA holds a x86 licence which allows its subsidiaries to produce compatible microprocessors; this allows Zhaoxin's development of their chips.[6]

Architecture[edit]

The architecture of the initial ZX family of processors is a continuation of VIA's Centaur Technology x86-64 Isaiah design.[8][1][9] The ZX-A and ZX-B are based on VIA Nano X2 C4350AL.[1][10] The ZX-B is identical to the ZX-A, except that it is manufactured by Shanghai Huali Microelectronics Corporation (HLMC) .[1][10] The ZX-C is based on the VIA QuadCore-E & Eden X4.[10] Zhaoxin terms the architecture "Zhangjiang", however it is thought the basis is the VIA Isaiah 2 architecture.[9] Like the VIA processors they were based on, early ZX processors are BGA (FCBGA and HFCBGA) chips sold pre-soldered onto a motherboard.

Zhaoxin came to the North American & European technology press' attention with the ZX-D processor, and its plan for future products, in late 2017/early 2018.[2][3] Zhaoxin calls the ZX-D architecture "Wudaokou" and is a complete re-design of the VIA Isaiah. This is a departure from earlier microarchitectures such as ZhangJiang which were a lightly modified version of VIA Technologies (Centaur) architecture. WuDaoKou is a new and complete SoC design.[11][9] Changes to the ZX-D include the integration of the northbridge like modern x86 designs, as well as additions of Chinese cryptographic functions.[9] The ZX-D series also has integrated graphics processing unit (iGPU) based on S3 Graphics technology (previously owned by VIA).[1][12][13]

The former ZX naming was dropped around 2018, for the KX ("KaiXian") designation for desktop processors, and KH ("KaisHeng") designation for server processors.

The KX-6000 (formerly ZX-E) system on a chip was demonstrated to press in September 2018.[12] The architecture, an evolution of the ZX-D architecture, has been named "Lujiazui".[11] In June 2019 the KX-6000 was reported to be built on a 16 nm TSMC process.[14] The chip has a DirectX 11.1 compatible iGPU.[12][13]

Discrete GPU[edit]

In 2020 Zhaoxin announced it was planning to release a dedicated graphics cards.[13]

Summary of architecture[edit]

Family Microarchitecture codename Year of introduction Process Cores Maximum speed Features Notes
ZX-A[3][8] VIA Isaiah 2014[1] 40 nm Based on the VIA Nano X2 C4350AL[1]
ZX-B[3][8] VIA Isaiah 40 nm Identical to ZX-A[1][10]
ZX-C[3] Zhangjiang 2015[1] 28 nm 4 2.0 GHz
Based on the VIA QuadCore-E & Eden X4
ZX-C+[3] Zhangiang 2016 28 nm 4/8 2.0 GHz AVX2, AES-NI[15] 35W[16]
ZX-D / KX-5000[3][17] / KH-20k[16] Wudaokou 2017 28 nm[18] 4/8[18] 2.0 GHz
Manufactured by TSMC
ZX-E / KX-6000[19] / KH-30k[16][13] Lujiazui 2019 16 nm[12][13] 8 (up to)[12] 3 GHz (up to)[12]
ZX-F / KX-7000[2] / KH-40k[16] 2021 (planned)[22] 7 nm (TBD)[16]
Family Codename Year of introduction Process Cores Maximum speed Features Notes

Uses[edit]

Zhaoxin processors have mainly been used for Chinese laptops.[14]

Performance[edit]

The Zhaoxin ZX-C+ 4701 CPU was reviewed in 2020, and showed significantly worse performance against older Intel (i5 2500K) and AMD (Athlon 3000G) processors.[23] The ZX-D is noted to have roughly the performance of the Intel Silvermont (Avoton) processors.[9]

The ZX-E / KX-6000 is reported to have a 50% performance increase over the KX-5000, and comparable performance to a 7th generation Intel i5 core processor from 2016 (namely the Core i5-7400).[12][14][13] The 8-core ZX-E U6780A was reviewed by Linus Tech Tips in August 2020.[24] The review processor was benchmarked to be slightly slower than a 3rd generation Intel i5 quad-core processor using Cinebench.[24] Gaming performance was noted to be poor, whilst the machine itself was noted to be expensive for its performance by 2020 standards.[24] Tom's Hardware also reviewed the U6780A and reported poor gaming performance in 2020.[11]

The aim for the ZX-F series is for performance parity with the 2018 series Ryzen processor.[1][9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Talk Of VIA Getting Back Into The x86 CPU Space With Zhaoxin". Phoronix. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Chan, Leon (3 January 2018). "Via's Chinese Joint Venture Aims For Competitive Home-Grown X86 SOCs By 2019". Hexus.net. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Tyson, Mark (2 January 2018). "VIA and Zhaoxin ZX- family of x86 processors roadmap shared". Hexus.net. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  4. ^ Clark, Don (21 April 2016). "AMD to License Chip Technology to China Chip Venture". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 April 2018. The VIA/Shanghai Zhaoxin KX-5000 series of x86-compatible CPUs will never be sold outside of China to avoid an Intel lawsuit.","...will use the technology to develop chips for server systems to be sold only in China
  5. ^ Wu, Yimian (23 May 2018). "China Supports Local Semiconductor Firms By Adding Them To Government Procurement List". China Money Network. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b Shilov, Anton (28 October 2020). "Chinese Chip-Producer Zhaoxin and Via Technologies Strengthen Ties". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  7. ^ Potoroaca, Adrian (5 March 2021). "China will use aging chips while its semiconductor industry catches up". TechSpot. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  8. ^ a b c "KaiXian (ZX/KX) - Zhaoxin". WikiChip. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Schor, David (21 January 2018). "Zhaoxin launches their highest-performance Chinese x86 chips". WikiChip. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d "What's going on with VIA/Zhaoxin and x86 processors?". Reddit. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Alcorn, Paul (10 April 2020). "Zhaoxin KaiXian x86 CPU Tested: The Rise of China's Chips". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Shilov, Anton (24 September 2018). "Zhaoxin Displays x86-Compatible KaiXian KX-6000: 8 Cores, 3 GHz, 16 nm FinFET". Anandtech. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Tyson, Mark (10 July 2020). "Chinese CPU maker Zhaoxin to launch a dGPU this year". HEXUS. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  14. ^ a b c Connatser, Matthew (20 June 2019). "Chinese-Produced Zhaoxin KX-6000 CPUs Purportedly Match Intel's Core i5-7400". Tom's Hardware. Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
  15. ^ "CPUID Dump, ZX-C+ C4580". instlatx64.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i "兆芯开胜KH-20000新品点亮安全可靠技术和应用研讨会". EETrend. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2018. Translated through Google Translate at https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=zh-CN&tl=en&u=http://www.eetrend.com/article/2018-03/100078081.html
  17. ^ "VIA Technologies Subsidiary Zhaoxin Announces New x86-64 CPUs - ExtremeTech". www.extremetech.com.
  18. ^ a b "Via joint venture reveals KX-5000 x86 SoCs for Chinese PCs". January 2, 2018.
  19. ^ "Zhaoxin to roll out 16nm CPU in 2018". digitimes.com.
  20. ^ a b "兆芯自主CPU路线图公布:将追平同期AMD、支持DDR5". MyDrivers.com. 2 January 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2018. Translated through Google Translate at https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=zh-CN&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fnews.mydrivers.com%2F1%2F561%2F561579.htm
  21. ^ a b "x86, x64 Instruction Latency, Memory Latency and CPUID dumps (instlatx64)". users.atw.hu.
  22. ^ December 2019, Zhiye Liu 13. "China-Based Zhaoxin Targets 2021 for 7nm CPUs With PCIe 4.0, DDR5 Support". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 2020-06-09.
  23. ^ ""Trillion Core" Chinese CPU vs. AMD & Intel: ZhaoXin X86 CPU Review ZX-C+ 4701". YouTube. Gamers Nexus. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  24. ^ a b c Sebastian, Linus. "A Chinese Intel competitor? - 16 August 2020". YouTube. Linus Tech Tips. Retrieved 17 August 2020.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In China 兆 can mean either short-scale million (1e6) or trillion (1e12). However, for IT-related topics 兆 always means mega/million in Mainland China.

External links[edit]