Monday, July 9th 2018

Chinese Company Begins Making x86 Processors Based on AMD "Zen" Architecture

Chinese chipmaker Hygon began mass-producing its first x86 processors codenamed "Dhyana" based on AMD's "Zen" micro-architecture. The processor is the fruition of a deal AMD entered with a Chinese state-owned company back in mid-2016. As part of this deal, a company called Haiguang Microelectronics Company (HMC), in which AMD has a 51 percent stake, would license the "Zen" architecture to another company called Hygon (Chengdu Haiguang Integrated Circuit Design Co.), in which AMD owns a 30 percent stake. Hygon would then design "Dhyana," and a third entity (likely TSMC or some other Chinese foundry), would contract-manufacture the chip.

Such legal gymnastics is necessary to ensure AMD makes good on the $293 million it will take from the Chinese firms to license "Zen," while not breaching the x86 architecture cross-licensing agreement it signed with Intel, the core x86 IP owner. Chinese firms are going through all this trouble to build "Dhyana" instead of simply placing a large order of EPYC processors not just because they want more control over the supply and pricing of these chips, but probably also to ensure that China can keep an eye on all the on-die software that makes the processor tick, and weed out any backdoors to foreign governments (*cough*NSA*cough*).
Source: Tom's Hardware
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39 Comments on Chinese Company Begins Making x86 Processors Based on AMD "Zen" Architecture

#1
DeathtoGnomes
Things like this happen all the time, rebranding is nothing new. My question is, how close is this to IP theft? This kinda looks like an ant-trust case, bait and switch maybe?
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#2
DRDNA
Man AMD is really running around opening new ventures all the time grabbing more and more market along the way....nice!
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#3
Vya Domus
DRDNA said:
Man AMD is really running around opening new ventures all the time grabbing more and more market along the way....nice!
Doubt this will bring any sort of significant market share advantage , looks like they have other motives.
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#4
DRDNA
Vya Domus said:
Doubt this will bring any sort of significant market share advantage , looks like they have other motives.
Well I do believe that China has the fastest growing market so yeah yup yes this is a good move for AMD and a grab for more market....advantages is something I was not talking about, grabbing more market was....but advantages will be seen in and around the end of 2019 beginning 2020 with AMD.
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#5
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
Vya Domus said:
Doubt this will bring any sort of significant market share advantage , looks like they have other motives.
It’s making them a nice chunk of change to go along with their already improved financial picture.
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#6
Caring1
I guess the NSA will just have to devise other means now :pimp:
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#7
bug
In the light of Micron's woes, I'm now waiting for the "HMC steals AMD IP, AMD sues, HMC countersues, Chinese courts ban AMD from doing business in China" news.
Criticize China all you want, but whan a problem needs a stolen solution, they know how to get it.
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#8
Recus
Right after DRAM IP (and all previous technologies IP) thefts AMD decides to sell US IP to communists before it's stolen. :kookoo: Let's hope Lisa Su will be burned in Senate.
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#9
ssdpro
Such legal gymnastics is necessary to ensure AMD makes good on the $293 million it will take from the Chinese firms to license "Zen," while not breaching the x86 architecture cross-licensing agreement it signed with Intel, the core x86 IP owner.
As long as AMD keeps paying Intel for the innovation they could never achieve I think all is well.
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#10
Vya Domus
ssdpro said:
As long as AMD keeps paying Intel for the innovation they could never achieve I think all is well.
:roll:

AMD64 ? Intel is held in shackles by IP that they didn't manage to successfully develop/deploy just as much as AMD is by Intel. Don't fool yourself.
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#13
Totally
ssdpro said:
As long as AMD keeps paying Intel for the innovation they could never achieve I think all is well.
HA, good thing I wasn't drinking coffee. If both companies wanted opted for the nuclear option with their IPs Intel would be the on who comes worse off.
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#14
the54thvoid
AMD have set up a system that allows their IP to be accessed by the other two companies involved. AMD own a 51% share in one company, the other, a minority share.
By owning one company, they still 'legally' maintain control over the IP. Except, the other company manufactures the chip, before selling back to the 51% AMD owned company.
AMD are 'legally' giving the Chinese company, the right to produce their own Epyc server chips. No IP theft here. This is unadulterated, legally tolerable, cross licensing shenanigans.
Remember now, this is AMD, giving the Chinese company clear access to the x86 IP. And helping reduce Chinese need for American inventory.
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#15
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
the54thvoid said:
AMD have set up a system that allows their IP to be accessed by the other two companies involved. AMD own a 51% share in one company, the other, a minority share.
By owning one company, they still 'legally' maintain control over the IP. Except, the other company manufactures the chip, before selling back to the 51% AMD owned company.
AMD are 'legally' giving the Chinese company, the right to produce their own Epyc server chips. No IP theft here. This is unadulterated, legally tolerable, cross licensing shenanigans.
Remember now, this is AMD, giving the Chinese company clear access to the x86 IP. And helping reduce Chinese need for American inventory.
And for peanuts.

Yes, $293 million is peanuts. It doesn't look like AMD's revenue will scale with the Chinese companies' output.

This is like that guy who sold DOS to Bill Gates for $500k.
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#16
R0H1T
Recus said:
Right after DRAM IP (and all previous technologies IP) thefts AMD decides to sell US IP to communists before it's stolen. :kookoo: Let's hope Lisa Su will be burned in Senate.
How about educating yourself on why AMD did this :rolleyes:
AMD's announcement in 2016 that it had established a joint venture in China to develop processors was surprising, but it yielded a much needed $293 million cash infusion (in payments based on delivery dates) for the then-struggling company, which had operated at a loss for the prior six quarters.
Perhaps if the US govt bailed them out (sounds familiar?) or the loan sharks aka banks & hedge funds gave them money AMD wouldn't have had to take such a drastic step!
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#17
kastriot
Good job AMD, spread seeds of knowledge don't be greedy like you know who.. :)
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#18
windwhirl
Since we're all on the x86 licensing topic, does anyone know which patents are no longer subject to claims? Wikipedia says that "the pre-586 subset of the x86 architecture is fully open". I thought those patents lasted a lot more (like 70 years)...
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#19
bug
windwhirl said:
Since we're all on the x86 licensing topic, does anyone know which patents are no longer subject to claims? Wikipedia says that "the pre-586 subset of the x86 architecture is fully open". I thought those patents lasted a lot more (like 70 years)...
Patents are good for 20 years. At this point only x86 extensions are covered (e.g. SSE, AVX).

Edit: You were probably thinking about copyright, that can be held for a long time.
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#20
windwhirl
bug said:
Patents are good for 20 years. At this point only x86 extensions are covered (e.g. SSE, AVX).
So I can start making 486 processors and I wouldn't have to pay a penny to anyone in patents? Strange, although considering that it would probably have little to no market...

Then China is probably just waiting for the x86-64 subset... by that time (2023/2024) SSE/SSE2 would no longer be covered and SSE3 would have little time left. With that, they could probably build a relatively decent CPU (at least for some government uses), should they feel any pressure from the US.
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#21
bug
windwhirl said:
So I can start making 486 processors and I wouldn't have to pay a penny to anyone in patents? Strange, although considering that it would probably have little to no market...
Yup: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X86
Check out the "open" section on the right. Not sure about the northbridge and southbridge that went with it though...
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#22
XiGMAKiD
Ooh playing with fire, exciting times ahead.
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#23
ssdpro
Vya Domus said:
:roll:

AMD64 ? Intel is held in shackles by IP that they didn't manage to successfully develop/deploy just as much as AMD is by Intel. Don't fool yourself.
Totally said:
HA, good thing I wasn't drinking coffee. If both companies wanted opted for the nuclear option with their IPs Intel would be the on who comes worse off.
Aww... only two users fell for it. The fanboy bait is usually more effective here.
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#24
jaw shwaa
Would this be something similar to how in the states we have Acura, but in Japan it's still Honda?

Sorry for the car analogy
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#25
Vya Domus
ssdpro said:
Aww... only two users fell for it. The fanboy bait is usually more effective here.
Spare us the witty response attempt and troll another theard. Or better yet spare us entirely with your comments.
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