China’s new Loongson CPU is nearly as fast as the first Ryzen processor.

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It also does not rely on any foreign licences.

China's new Loongson CPU is almost as fast as the first Ryzen

The new Loongson 3A5000 is a quad-core processor with a clock speed of 2.3 – 2.5 GHz. It employs Loongson’s 64-bit GS464V microarchitecture, which includes four ALUs (arithmetic logic units) and two 256-bit vector units per core, but this is mostly marketing jargon without context. Loongson intends to market it for laptops, industrial environments, and even some server applications.

Chinese chipmaker Loongson announced a new processor on Friday. In terms of features, the Loongson 3A5000 comes equipped with two DDR4-3200 memory controllers and a dedicated encryption module. It also has four HyperTransport 3.0 SMP controllers that allow multiple 3A5000s to operate in unison inside a single system, like Intel’s Xeons and AMD’s Epycs.

But it’s not the specifications that distinguish the 3A5000; it’s the novel ISA (instruction set architecture) it employs, known as LoongArch. According to Loongson, it is broadly similar to x86 and Arm, but was built from the ground up to avoid the use of foreign licences.

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LoongArch’s proprietary instructions and extensions for binary conversion, vector and advanced vector processing, and virtualization number nearly 2,000. Loongson markets it as MIPS64 compatible, and it can run code written for Loongson’s previous MIPS64 processors, but LoongArch is theoretically quite different.

 

Loongson says that LoongArch is 10-20% more efficient than their previous ISA, and contributes to the 3A5000 being 50% faster than its predecessor, the 3A4000 (pictured above), while consuming 30% less power.

Because of architectural differences, comparing the 3A5000 to US-designed processors is difficult on paper. Nonetheless, Loongson claims that the 3A5000 scores more than 80 points in the SPEC CPU2006 test, putting it in the same performance category as early Ryzen CPUs and Intel’s 6th-generation Core CPUs.

If that isn’t enough performance for you, wait for the 3C5000, a 16-core version of the 3A5000 that will be released later this year. Even though it is still a long way off, China’s semiconductor industry is rapidly approaching self-sufficiency.

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Image credit: Artiom Vallat

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