Intel pretty much dominates the PC processor space, with AMD nipping at its heels (and attempting to make a comeback in a big way thanks to its new Ryzen line of chips). This year Qualcomm will start to compete in the PC space too, thanks to Windows 10’s support for ARM-based processors.

But once upon a time Intel and AMD weren’t the only companies producing x86 chips for desktops. VIA Technologies was a minor player in this space up until a few years ago, but the company has largely been focused on embedded chips for the past few years.

Now a company called Zhaoxin, which is co-owned by Shanghai and VIA is announcing plans for a new line of processors that could eventually compete with AMD and Intel’s latest offerings.

It’s not clear if VIA is actively participating in development of the new chips, but VIA has a license to product x86 processors, which means that Zhaoxin does too.

Zhaoxin has produced a handful of x86 processors over the past few years, but according to reports from eefocus and semi.org.cn, the new KX-5000 is the first to fully support modern technologies including DDR4 memory, PCIe 3.0, and USB 3.1 Type-C.

The 28nm chips will be available in quad-core and octa-core versions clock speeds up to 2.4 GHz. They also feature integrated graphics and support 4K video playback.

Zhaoxin plans to move to a 16nm processor and support speeds up to 3 GHz for its upcoming KX-6000 chips, and add support for DDR5 memory and PCIe 4.0 with the eventual KX-7000.

At this point Zhaoxin’s chips aren’t likely to overtake Intel’s (or even AMD’s) in the global market. But China has been focused on developing home-grown alternatives to chips designed by Western companies for a number of years, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chinese PC makers like Lenovo opt for these chips for computers that will be sold in their home market.

In fact, Lenovo is already said to be planning to launch an M6200 computer powered by the KX-5000 sometime this year.

via forum-3dcenterGolem.de, PC Games Hardware, and Guru 3D

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15 replies on “Zhaoxin wants to take on Intel and AMD in desktop space with KX-5000 CPU”

    1. Well, let’s see how well can _you_ train a 6 year old Chinese kid in a sweatsop to etch a CPU on a die with a dirty needle!

      1. Yes it is only 28 nm whilst Intel and AMD are producing at 14 nm and soon 10 nm. But what you are totally failing to consider is the strategy of startup competitors in the PRC to major US/international brands. They are going for an initial lower cost well established technology so that they can get a toehold on the market. If they then succeed in becoming profitable and can then expand market share, they will then rapidly re-invest in producing more expensive smaller die technology and then go on to capture more of the market. By gradually changing from one technology to a more advanced one, they learn the production skills needed, and if they continue on to expand in the market place thanks to their lower production costs, they will eventually reach a similar technology level to the current market leaders and it is they who will be having the “last laugh”.

        1. That certainly sounds reasonable. Anecdotally, I’m seeing Chinese ARM SoCs taking more and more of the ARM-based device market starting at the low/mid-end . This could happen with x86 chips as well.

          I’m sure Intel may attempt to lawyer up. At least outside of China if/when Zhaoxin chips are exported.

    2. You shouldn’t have stopped reading, because “Zhaoxin plans to move to a 16nm processor” comes right after that…

      Plus, Sandy Bridge was a really great line of CPUs, and still perform well despite being on a 32nm process. You can still do decent computing above 28nm, even if you can’t beat current-gen Intel in performance.

  1. I don’t expect to see a single one of these sold in North America. I think these will be limited to Asia, Russia, and maybe South America.

  2. As the Chinese government backs Zhaoxin, then a specific percentage of all x86 computers sold in China will require the new cpu (and chipset). This is a good way for China to be less dependent on foreign tech. I don’t think this means anything for the rest of the world.
    Things will become interesting when the required percentage becomes meaningful (as in the case of Spreadtrum in the Chinese cellphone market).

    Here is a quote from the company’s webpage:
    “Zhaoxin lead the development of self-reliant intellectual property information technology.
    Zhaoxin has taken great strides to provide the industry with high-end processors compliant with national strategic feature needs by offering cost effective solutions with outstanding performance and low power consumption. These products strengthen the progression of autonomy and controllability of IT industry in China.”

    1. I wonder how large of a market China-only PCs are for Intel/AMD. I wouldn’t be surprised if Zhaoxin’s chips become comparable to Intel/AMD chips (ie. not noticeably different for most people’s usage). That plus coupled with potentially forced Zhaoxin chip usage for non-exported products could be a noticeable chunk of Intel’s/AMD’s sales.

      *These are all assumptions based on my very limited knowledge of the CPU market and government policies.

  3. Interesting, I only ever owned a motherboard with a Via chipset back when I had a Pentium-3 (that says it all) but more market offers are always good.
    If I read correctly somewhere else, they are pointing at the Celeron/Pentium lines and there they can make a dent in the local market… assuming Chuwi/Jumper/Cube + Lenovo want to play ball.

  4. Don’t forget about Cyrix. They weren’t very good but they did try to capture a portion of the low end for a while.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrix

    As for Zhaoxin, they may gain a portion of the home market (thanks to the government) but I suspect it will be a long time before Intel ever has to worry about them.

  5. I almost forgot about VIA entirely. I was really rooting for them as an underdog in the Netbook space, but they never could get performance to match even the the awful mess that was the intel Atom n270. It’s amazing just how far we’ve come in 10 years.

    1. Ha, I have had a VIA EPIA-M920 a few years ago (VIA Quadcore 1.2GHz) and right now I have two barely used (in box) Asrock PV530A motherboards. Still trying to find out what to do with those Asrock boards 🙁

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