Last year, fabless chip maker Zhaoxin announced they were readying a multicore x86-compatible CPU. According to media reports, the chips are showing up on Chinese marketplaces like Taobao shipping around March.
The company is a joint venture between the Shanghai Municipal Government and VIA Technologies, a familiar name in the PC business. It makes even more sense if you remember that VIA bought Centaur who had built simple x86 chips and used the simplicity to add more cache that more complex Intel and AMD chips. These fell out of the hobby market, but they’ve still been pushing forward providing simple designs that are inexpensive and consume low power.
Unlike some older Centaur chips, the new Zhaoxin chip is superscalar and capable of out of order execution. It also supports modern instruction sets like SSE4.2 and AVX. With eight cores, the CPU comes in a few speed grades.
Our Chinese isn’t good enough to watch the video below, but the closed caption is in English and makes sense, so we are assuming it is accurate.
According to the video, the chip is directly mounted on a motherboard and the 16 nm, 2.7 GHz processor consumes 70 W of power and does not have an L3 cache, but does have an 8 MB secondary cache. The CPU integrates the traditional north and south bridge chips.
According to the video, the company is targeting the do it yourself market and the motherboard and chip specs will be a little different in the production model. China is pushing hard to develop independence from foreign technology. This seems like a major step.