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VIA CenTaur CHA NCORE AI CPU Pictured, a Socketed LGA Package

VIA's CenTaur division sprung an unexpected surprise in the CPU industry with its new CHA x86-64 microarchitecture and an on-die NCORE AI co-processor. This would be the first globally-targeted x86 processor launch by a company other than Intel and AMD in close to 7 years, and VIA's first socketed processor in over 15 years. SemiAccurate scored a look at mock-up of the CenTaur CHA NCORE 8-core processor and it turns out that the chip is indeed socketed.

Pictured below, the processor is a flip-chip LGA. We deduce it is socketed looking at its alignment notches and traces for ancillaries on the reverse-side (something BGAs tend to lack). On the other hand, the "contact points" of the package appear to cast shadows, and resemble balls on a BGA package. Topside, we see an integrated heatspreader (IHS), and underneath is a single square die. CenTaur built the CHA NCORE on TSMC's 16 nm FinFET process. The package appears to have quite a high pin-count for a die this size, but that's probably because of its HEDT-rivaling I/O, which includes a quad-channel DDR4 memory interface and 44 PCI-Express gen 3.0 lanes.

Zhaoxin KaiXian x86 Processor Now Commercially Available to the DIY Channel

Zhaoxin is a brand that makes multi-core 64-bit x86 processors primarily for use in Chinese state IT infrastructure. It's part of the Chinese Government's ambitious plan to make its IT hardware completely indigenous. Zhaoxin's x86-64 CPU cores are co-developed by licensee VIA, specifically its CenTaur subsidiary that's making NCORE AI-enabled x86 processors. The company's KaiXian KX-6780A processor is now commercially available in China to the DIY market in the form of motherboards with embedded processors.

The KaiXian KX-6780A features an 8-core/8-thread x86-64 CPU clocked up to 2.70 GHz, 8 MB of last-level cache, a dual-channel DDR4-3200 integrated memory controller, a PCI-Express gen 3.0 root-complex, and an iGPU possibly designed by VIA's S3 Graphics division, which supports basic display and DirectX 11.1 readiness. The CPU features modern ISA, with instruction sets that include AVX, AES-NI, SHA-NI, and VT-x comparable virtualization extensions. The chip has been fabricated on TSMC 16 nm FinFET process.

Centaur Releases In-Depth Analysis from The Linley Group for its NCORE-Equipped x86 Processor

Centaur Technology today revealed in-depth information about its new processor-design technology for integrating high-performance x86 CPUs with a specialized co-processor optimized for artificial intelligence (AI) acceleration. On its website, Centaur provides a new independent report from The Linley Group, the industry's leading authority on microprocessor technology and publishers of Microprocessor Report. The Linley Group reviewed Centaur's detailed design documents and interviewed Centaur's CPU and AI architects to support the analysis of both Centaur's newest x86 microarchitecture and the AI co-processor design.

"Centaur is galloping back into the x86 market with an innovative processor design that combines eight high-performance CPUs with a custom deep-learning accelerator (DLA). The company is the first to announce a server-processor design that integrates a DLA. The new accelerator, called Ncore, delivers better neural-network performance than even the most powerful Xeon, but without the high cost of an external GPU card," stated Linley Gwennap, Editor-in-Chief, Microprocessor Report.
The report can be accessed here (PDF).
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