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Lenovo to use chinese Zhaoxin x86 CPUs? (VIA's back!)

Frick

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#1
http://www.startlr.com/lenovo-will-launch-a-pc-on-chinese-processors-zhaoxin/

So what is Zhaoxin? Is this just a chinese x86 knockoff? A light googling found:

"Zhaoxin (Shanghai Zhaoxin Semiconductor Co., Ltd., also goes by VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd.) is Chinese fabless semiconductor company jointly owned by VIA Technologies and the Shanghai Municipal Government."

Soo this is essentially a VIA chip. :D Not really, but that is how I choose to see it.

Anyway, some more info here.

"VIA link helped Zhaoxin to sign a deal with TSMC, who will manufacture their ZX-D and ZX-E series processor using 16nm FinFET lithography. The same one which is being used for Microsoft Xbox “Project Scorpio” APU from AMD.

The first customer for the CPUs has already been found, and orders have come in from the world’s number one PC manufacturer, Lenovo – and several other smaller players."

As for technical details ... no idea. Also this is obviously for the chinese domestic market, and I can't believe they'll compete with either Intel or AMD in IPC. OTOH China has the SW26010 Sunway CPUs that currently powers the fastest supercomputer in the world.

So what did I want with this? It'd be really cool if there were more x86 players on the market, and I want to see what them Zhaoxin CPUs can do.

BTW, here's a long translated article I haven't read. Trillion core CPU!
 
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#2
I don't really need to bring this up, but it's funny to think of the sordid associations IBM has had over the years. Or sad, but funny. They created machines that helped the Nazis catalogue their "undesirables". And now the PC division has been fully swallowed up... and the new PCs will literally use Commie CPUs :D

Seriously though.. I don't think we need more x86s. We need to move away from the damn thing. Even Microsoft wants to do that, but it's never been quite within reach.
 
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#3
"x86 compatible" is a vague statement , yes the patents for early x86 designs are no longer viable. But what about the many other extensions ? Looking at their site apparently their x86 CPUs support SSE4.2/AVX/AVX2. Pretty sure they don't have any licenses for any of those , this couldn't look more shadier. Interesting to see how this will pan out , probably they will limit themselves for the Asian markets because there is no way this is within legal ground.

Seriously though.. I don't think we need more x86s. We need to move away from the damn thing. Even Microsoft wants to do that, but it's never been quite within reach.
No one wants to get away from x86. It's not even feasible to do so , too much legacy software to be dealt with , transitioning to another architecture would be a colossal undertaking that will never be fully complete.
 
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#4
"x86 compatible" is a vague statement , yes the patents for early x86 designs are no longer viable. But what about the many other extensions ? Looking at their site apparently their x86 CPUs support SSE4.2/AVX/AVX2. Pretty sure they don't have any licenses for any of those , this couldn't look more shadier. Interesting to see how this will pan out , probably they will limit themselves for the Asian markets because there is no way this is within legal ground.



No one wants to get away from x86. It's not even feasible to do so , too much legacy software to be dealt with , transitioning to another architecture would be a colossal undertaking that will never be fully complete.

_____________

* In 2003, VIA settled its long-time patent and monopolisation disputes against Intel in the UK in exchange for an extensive cross-licence agreement with Intel for 10 years.
source: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sect...l_decision.pdf

* In addition, the FTC settlement order will require Intel to:

modify its intellectual property agreements with AMD, Nvidia, and VIA so that those companies have more freedom to consider mergers or joint ventures with other companies, without the threat of being sued by Intel for patent infringement;
offer to extend VIA’s x86 licensing agreement for five years beyond the current agreement, which expires in 2013;
source: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/pres...-against-intel

_____________
About VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co Ltd. - 上海兆芯集成电路有限公司 (ZHAOXIN)

VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. was established in April 2013 with a total registered capital of USD$250M. As a joint venture between Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd. who is affiliated to Shanghai SASAC and VIA Technologies, Inc., VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. has about 1000 employees and locates its headquarter at Zhangjiang of Shanghai with branches in Beijing, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Taiwan, California and Texas of America (Centaur Technology Inc.).

With the forefront technologies and know-how in the design of CPU, GPU and chipsets, VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. is well known to provide high security, high performance, low power dissipation, and low cost SoC solutions.

As a fabless SoC factory, VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. adopts advanced 40nm and 28nm semiconductor processes. VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd.’s main products include CPU and chipsets for desktop PC and laptop and ARM Cortex series SoC with its state of the art Elite series GPU and Video Engine IPs. VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. aims at becoming the leading SoC solution supplier for smart TV (TVOS), smart phone and tablets.


link: http://en.zhaoxin.com/

Current x86 Product
source:
http://en.zhaoxin.com/Solution.aspx?id=3


• (2017): ZX-D (28nm) 2.0GHz QuadCore and 2.0GHz OctaCore
link:
http://en.zhaoxin.com/InCenterContent.aspx?id=115
link: http://en.zhaoxin.com/InCenterContent.aspx?id=112
link: http://ranker.sisoftware.net/show_s...e0ddedcba39eae88f0cdfddbbedbe6d6f083be86&l=en

• (2018): ZX-E (16nm) up to 3.0GHz OctaCore

Will after AMD comeback also VIA processors comeback? FinFET’s going chips and a large modernization

source:
https://translate.google.sk/translate?hl=sk&sl=cs&tl=en&u=https://www.cnews.cz/bude-po-comebacku-amd-navrat-procesoru-via-chysta-finfetove-cipy-velkou-modernizaci/
 

Frick

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#5

_____________

* In 2003, VIA settled its long-time patent and monopolisation disputes against Intel in the UK in exchange for an extensive cross-licence agreement with Intel for 10 years.
source: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sect...l_decision.pdf

* In addition, the FTC settlement order will require Intel to:

modify its intellectual property agreements with AMD, Nvidia, and VIA so that those companies have more freedom to consider mergers or joint ventures with other companies, without the threat of being sued by Intel for patent infringement;
offer to extend VIA’s x86 licensing agreement for five years beyond the current agreement, which expires in 2013;
source: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/pres...-against-intel

_____________
About VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co Ltd. - 上海兆芯集成电路有限公司 (ZHAOXIN)

VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. was established in April 2013 with a total registered capital of USD$250M. As a joint venture between Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd. who is affiliated to Shanghai SASAC and VIA Technologies, Inc., VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. has about 1000 employees and locates its headquarter at Zhangjiang of Shanghai with branches in Beijing, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Taiwan, California and Texas of America (Centaur Technology Inc.).

With the forefront technologies and know-how in the design of CPU, GPU and chipsets, VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. is well known to provide high security, high performance, low power dissipation, and low cost SoC solutions.

As a fabless SoC factory, VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. adopts advanced 40nm and 28nm semiconductor processes. VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd.’s main products include CPU and chipsets for desktop PC and laptop and ARM Cortex series SoC with its state of the art Elite series GPU and Video Engine IPs. VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd. aims at becoming the leading SoC solution supplier for smart TV (TVOS), smart phone and tablets.


link: http://en.zhaoxin.com/

Current x86 Product
source:
http://en.zhaoxin.com/Solution.aspx?id=3


• (2017): ZX-D (28nm) 2.0GHz QuadCore and 2.0GHz OctaCore
link:
http://en.zhaoxin.com/InCenterContent.aspx?id=115
link: http://en.zhaoxin.com/InCenterContent.aspx?id=112
link: http://ranker.sisoftware.net/show_s...e0ddedcba39eae88f0cdfddbbedbe6d6f083be86&l=en

• (2018): ZX-E (16nm) up to 3.0GHz OctaCore

Will after AMD comeback also VIA processors comeback? FinFET’s going chips and a large modernization

source:
https://translate.google.sk/translate?hl=sk&sl=cs&tl=en&u=https://www.cnews.cz/bude-po-comebacku-amd-navrat-procesoru-via-chysta-finfetove-cipy-velkou-modernizaci/
Oh hey. I was close to quoting your posts from ... Guru3D and Anandtech I think my Google led me. Thanks!
 
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#6
Sounds like another cheap Chinese knockoff product, I imagine the errata list will be insanely long, there will be the possibility of hardware backdoor access, and performance will be subpar.

Reminds me of Chinese 1TB USB with a built in 32GB USB stick and "custom" firmware that overwrites data so it looks like 1TB.

No thanks.
 

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#7
Sounds like another cheap Chinese knockoff product, I imagine the errata list will be insanely long, there will be the possibility of hardware backdoor access, and performance will be subpar.

Reminds me of Chinese 1TB USB with a built in 32GB USB stick and "custom" firmware that overwrites data so it looks like 1TB.

No thanks.
Remember VIA is into it as well, and Lenovo, and it's supposedly made at TSMCs 16nm node. Subpar performance is a guarantee but I still want to know how they perform.
 
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#8
Soo this is essentially a VIA chip. :D Not really, but that is how I choose to see it.
There no "not really" about it, the CPU core is designed by Centaur in the US and this is a part owned partnership by VIA.

and the new PCs will literally use Commie CPUs :D
Are you saying that the US is a communist country now? As above, the CPU core is designed in the US by Centaur, more specifically in Austin.

"No one wants to get away from x86. It's not even feasible to do so , too much legacy software to be dealt with , transitioning to another architecture would be a colossal undertaking that will never be fully complete.
That's a load of hogwash. How did Apple transition from PowerPC to x86 if something along these lines would be "impossible"? Anything is possible, but today there isn't enough willpower, nor a need to do so. Possible, for sure, but it won't be painless, that's for sure and it'll take time. However, is there a viable alternative today? No, and there isn't likely to be one any time soon, simply because Intel has invested enough money into the architecture and have enough market share and money to continue to push x86/x64. If/when something better arrives, then maybe we'll see a shift, but as of right now, it doesn't make a whole heap of sense.
 
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#9
Everyone trashing it for being Chinese. Huawei and Xiaomi are both Chinese and they make superb products. You can also be assured Lenovo has the legal stuff checked and covered. They may be chinese, but they aren't stupid...
 
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#10
Remember VIA is into it as well, and Lenovo, and it's supposedly made at TSMCs 16nm node. Subpar performance is a guarantee but I still want to know how they perform.
VIA was never a performance chipset, and my comment was more about the high number of backdoor security issues coming out of China. Until these processors have gone through the gauntlet of tests and proven themselves " no one has ever been fired for buying Intel" will still remain in effect. They are going to be reinventing the wheel, and the only reason they get to try is.... China. So when a product is made with that as the main driving force it only begs the question of why, when AMD is now back with performance options, Intel is still here, ARM makes good performance and power sipping products, I just don't see the real market value or the end to the means.

There no "not really" about it, the CPU core is designed by Centaur in the US and this is a part owned partnership by VIA.



Are you saying that the US is a communist country now? As above, the CPU core is designed in the US by Centaur, more specifically in Austin.



That's a load of hogwash. How did Apple transition from PowerPC to x86 if something along these lines would be "impossible"? Anything is possible, but today there isn't enough willpower, nor a need to do so. Possible, for sure, but it won't be painless, that's for sure and it'll take time. However, is there a viable alternative today? No, and there isn't likely to be one any time soon, simply because Intel has invested enough money into the architecture and have enough market share and money to continue to push x86/x64. If/when something better arrives, then maybe we'll see a shift, but as of right now, it doesn't make a whole heap of sense.

I agree with most of your comment, but the software garden that business has are usually outdated, and getting a large company to rewrite code for ARM when its existed as X86 for years is next to impossible, and a lot of times the intericate knowledge of software and how it interacts with hardware is what keeps it that way. For example I have base stations for GPS that require X86 to run the software, must have a serial port, must be capable of high and low speed baud, FIFO, and have good memory management. Windows 10 breaks some of these and i have to manually set things for different applications to run with the same adapter. If its that much of a PITA I would beat an engineer senseless if they decided that we now have a new adapter, with a totally new system to perform updates, retrieve files and everything else. Apple took years of co-developing their software before it was a stable enough release to move to the X86 platform.

Everyone trashing it for being Chinese. Huawei and Xiaomi are both Chinese and they make superb products. You can also be assured Lenovo has the legal stuff checked and covered. They may be chinese, but they aren't stupid...
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/09/u...and-zte-national-security-threat.html?mcubz=0

"Backdoor security exploits were an accident"
 
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#11
That's a load of hogwash. How did Apple transition from PowerPC to x86 if something along these lines would be "impossible"? Anything is possible, but today there isn't enough willpower, nor a need to do so. Possible, for sure, but it won't be painless, that's for sure and it'll take time. However, is there a viable alternative today? No, and there isn't likely to be one any time soon, simply because Intel has invested enough money into the architecture and have enough market share and money to continue to push x86/x64. If/when something better arrives, then maybe we'll see a shift, but as of right now, it doesn't make a whole heap of sense.
I was 100% sure someone was going to mention Apple and PowerPC :D. But think again , macOS at the time had no where near the library that is available today for Windows and other x86 operating systems. Not to mention that macOS was and still is almost nonexistent in the server space. Also take into account the large amount of 2 or even 3 decade old legacy x86 code that still sits at core of many critical systems that are still in use and need maintenance. And not only that , all embedded systems either run on x86/ARM or custom ASICs.

A transition from x86 to something else is obviously not impossible in the absolute sense , never said so. But it would be so horrendous there is no way it will happen and there is simply no reason to do it.
 
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#12
I think you guys are thinking the wrong way about things.

If there for whatever reason was going to be a transition to a new processor platform, it would as all these things, start with new products. Many, many companies have transitioned to new software over the years. A good example is Netgear. They bought ReadyNAS and quite quickly realised that their software was shite, i.e. it was not possible to move forward with the code base, as it was plain and simply bad. So they said hey, from this range of new products, we'll have a new OS and the old shite will be legacy from now on. It worked great for them, as their new OS is quite slick, clean and reasonably fast. Of course, this is a nice product by a single company, but it's by no means impossible.

Let's say there's a new CPU company that has come up with a consumer quantum CPU that's 100x faster than x86/x64 chips from Intel or AMD that launches next week, do you not think software companies would be lining up to support that company? Obviously this is highly unlikely today, but it's bound to happen at some point in the future, as x86/x64 has a limit on how far it can go and so does ARM, MIPS etc.

However, this doesn't mean that "legacy" stuff has to be thrown out, it's just that from a point in time and moving forward from there, we'll be using something else and that something else will have limited software support.

Android is another great example of this happening in a way. Eight years ago, no-one knew what Android was. Today, at least half of all mobile phone owners in the world uses it, or a derivative. How did that happen? Wasn't Windows Mobile good enough? What about Symbian? BlackBerry OS? WebOS? There were plenty of already established players in the market, but with enough investment and some clever marketing from Google, Android has become the de facto mobile device OS if you're not using iOS. So if it can happen on the mobile side, why couldn't it happen on the PC side for something else?
 
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#13
So if it can happen on the mobile side, why couldn't it happen on the PC side for something else?
The smartphone industry was emerging at that time , anyone could have gotten ahead. There was no "transitioning" to speak of because there was nothing established to transition from to begin with . PCs on the other hand have been around for decades. You know what they have being teaching students at the computer architecture class after they learn the basics for the last 2 decades everywhere around the world? x86. That's how established this architecture is.

You're thinking about this too much on a theoretical level . "Everything is possible" does not mean everything is practical or desirable or that it will ever be done. This is how I view this.
 
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#15
http://www.startlr.com/lenovo-will-launch-a-pc-on-chinese-processors-zhaoxin/

So what is Zhaoxin? Is this just a chinese x86 knockoff? A light googling found:

"Zhaoxin (Shanghai Zhaoxin Semiconductor Co., Ltd., also goes by VIA Alliance Semiconductor Co., Ltd.) is Chinese fabless semiconductor company jointly owned by VIA Technologies and the Shanghai Municipal Government."

So what did I want with this? It'd be really cool if there were more x86 players on the market, and I want to see what them Zhaoxin CPUs can do.
The main problem faced by anybody trying to build a modern x86 CPU using VIA's license is that they also need to license x86-64 from AMD, or they can't build a 64 bit x86 CPU. That restricts the CPU to 4GB of RAM. Would AMD license x86-64 to VIA? Possibly, but they'd have to be making some pretty good money from each chip sold, or no dice.
 
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#16
Apparently VIA does have rights to AMD's x86_64.
 
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#17
@Steevo
Because Apple doesn't have any ties with US government and security agencies? It's similar how everyone is trashing Kaspersky Lab for having ties with Russian national agency (FSB). Like McAfee and Symantec, who with highest certainty have ties with FBI and CIA. I mean, these security agencies work hand in hand with security firms like before mentioned. But US are always the good guys and Russians and Chinese are always the bad guys no matter what, right?

@Vya Domus
It's probably because AMD isn't being dick about it like Intel is with x86...
 
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#18
high number of backdoor security issues coming out of China.
Not that there aren't perhaps any, but I can't think of one identified instance of this reported yet. So yeah.

EDIT: Sorry, misread that as "hardware backdoors." I retract.
 
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#19
The main problem faced by anybody trying to build a modern x86 CPU using VIA's license is that they also need to license x86-64 from AMD, or they can't build a 64 bit x86 CPU. That restricts the CPU to 4GB of RAM. Would AMD license x86-64 to VIA? Possibly, but they'd have to be making some pretty good money from each chip sold, or no dice.

?







The VIA x86 C4000-Series processors 28nm Lineup (Processor ID CentaurHauls Family 6 Model 15 Stepping 14; Processor Codename CNR) = Zhaoxin ZX-C
  • VIA QuadCore E C4650 2.0GHz 18 Watt TDP
  • VIA Eden X4 C4450 1.6GHz (Boost up to 2.0GHz) 10 Watt TDP
  • VIA Eden X4 C4250 1.2GHz (Boost up to 1.73GHz) 6 Watt TDP
  • VIA Eden X1 C1050 1.06GHz 2 Watt TDP
 
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#21
These seem more like cheap processors aimed at things like set-top media boxes or low-end laptops. I can see where they would fit a market for that basically as APU competition. But I don't see them competing with the AMD/Intel market, at least until they get a lot better at innovation and catching up there. Still, there are plenty of uses for appliances or IoT devices that could use these, and Chinese companies tend to be preferred by consumers over western ones, so I could see these doing well there as an alternative to western CPUs for those uses. The pricing should be good and it would alleviate concerns there about western backdoors.

Also, the OP mentions the Sunway but don't let that cloud what these are. The Sunway is just 41,000 parallel 1.45Ghz processors. Fine for a Supercomputer and bragging rights but not comparable to being competitive in a consumer sense.
 
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#22
The more the merrier. I remember roughly 10 years ago when I was still selling laptops with VIA CPU's powered by S3 Chrome graphics. It wasn't spectacular, but it was an option and it certainly wasn't bad. Then they just dropped from the face of the Earth. I guess they'll be back again. It might be perfectly good for non demanding tasks on the budget. We'll see. Every competition is good for consumers. Might even become something serious over time...
 
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#23
Had a really old PC with S3 integrated graphics , so I knew about them but never saw anything powered by VIA CPUs though.
 
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#24
@Steevo
Because Apple doesn't have any ties with US government and security agencies? It's similar how everyone is trashing Kaspersky Lab for having ties with Russian national agency (FSB). Like McAfee and Symantec, who with highest certainty have ties with FBI and CIA. I mean, these security agencies work hand in hand with security firms like before mentioned. But US are always the good guys and Russians and Chinese are always the bad guys no matter what, right?

@Vya Domus
It's probably because AMD isn't being dick about it like Intel is with x86...

Because the FBI had to get a hacker to break a phone? I am no Apple fan, but if you look at the list of trusted devices approved for Diplomats or others you will begin to understand what is and is not secure, and if you don't like the US list, try the UK, China or others.
 
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#25
The main problem faced by anybody trying to build a modern x86 CPU using VIA's license is that they also need to license x86-64 from AMD, or they can't build a 64 bit x86 CPU. That restricts the CPU to 4GB of RAM. Would AMD license x86-64 to VIA? Possibly, but they'd have to be making some pretty good money from each chip sold, or no dice.
PAE allows >4GB on 32-bit, but has a moderate <10% perf penalty (iirc).