proprietary processor architecture and 12nm chip for servers and laptops

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As you know, many Chinese companies are now under US sanctions, and the Americans have banned the import into China of technologies that are of any importance to national security.

That is why the country’s government decided to develop the semiconductor industry. More precisely, the development and production of complex chips, including processors that can compete with American ones. The Chinese government has previously announced its intention to invest about $1.4 trillion in the development of high technologies until 2025. And now this project is already beginning to give the first results.

What are we talking about?

The Chinese company BLX IC Design Corporation distinguished itself, which is far from being heard by everyone. Her brand Longson is better known. The company was founded back in 2002, when there was no talk of any conflict between the US and China, except for minor misunderstandings.

At the very beginning, the newly formed organization was engaged in the development of the architecture of productive chips. But at first, this work was mostly research in nature. A few years later, representatives of China managed to create their own processor, which was called Godson-3.

Godson – this was the name of the Chinese chip architecture, later it was renamed Longson, and even later – Longacre. The organization employs hundreds of people, and over time the team grows larger, and the capabilities of the organization become wider. It is known that in 2008 about 300 highly qualified engineers worked here. Now there are several thousand of them.

At first, the company used MIPS as the architecture for its chips. Chips produced by Longson Technology, as the company is now called, were supplied to manufacturers of netbooks and set-top boxes. Then they were adopted by developers of productive systems, such as the Dawning 6000 supercomputer with a capacity of more than 1000 teraflops.

In general, the company was one of many who used the existing architecture to produce their own chips. But after the outbreak of conflict with the United States, Longson Technology began to look for an opportunity to solve the problem.

And she succeeded – she developed an architecture from scratch, called Longson Architecture or Longacre.

Some details

Import substitution is one of the reasons for creating its own architecture; in any case, China needed it. The second reason is the transition of MIPS Technologies to RISC-V.

Due to the fact that all technologies were developed almost from scratch, the company managed to achieve increased energy efficiency of the processor.

In addition, the architects added Binary Transform (LBT), Vector Processing (LSX), Extended Vector Processing (LASX), and Virtualization (LVZ) instructions.

Yes, the architecture was developed earlier, and now the company has introduced a new processor. New – because this is the second chip released by the company. The first one, called 3A4000, was released in 2019 using a 28nm process. This chip operated at frequencies up to 2 GHz and was commensurate in performance per core with AMD Bulldozer solutions.

The 3A5000/LS3A5000 is a quad-core processor made using a 12nm process technology. The core frequency is 2.3-2.5 GHz. There is also a server version, with 16 cores.

Both processor models support fast translation of instructions from other architectures, which allows them to run conventional operating systems without recompilation.

As it turned out, there was already an enthusiast who tested the chip and presented the results of the analysis. Brief conclusion – the new chip is approximately equal in performance to the Core i7 4700 HQ and quite a bit “holds out” to the Core i7-2600.

The company managed to achieve all this in less than two years. Longson specialists have now developed a laptop based on the new processor. True, neither the start of sales nor the characteristics of this device are known yet.

Unfortunately, for now, the new processor will be sold only in China, at least for the first time after the release.

Not a Longson single

At the beginning of this year, it also became known about the new processor of another Chinese company – Shaoxing Semiconductor.

As far as one can judge, China is in full swing towards the import substitution of semiconductor chips, and so far the country has been successful. Of course, it does not do without difficulties, including the lack of specialists, specific equipment, etc. But China is still solving these problems. But whether the country can create a competitive ecosystem for Longacre, only time will tell.