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posted by takyon on Monday May 28 2018, @07:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the home-blown dept.

Submitted via IRC for guy_

Tencent chairman pledges to advance China chip industry after ZTE 'wake-up' call: reports

While the U.S. administration said on Friday it had reached a deal to put ZTE back in business after the company pays a $1.3 billion fine and makes management changes, the plan has run into resistance in Congress, indicating ZTE was still far from out of the woods. Also, ZTE is yet to confirm the deal.

"The recent ZTE incident made everyone more clearly realize that however advanced one may be in mobile payment, without the mobile, the chips and the operating system, you still cannot compete," Chinese media reports cited Tecent's Pony Ma as saying at a forum in Shenzhen on Saturday.

[...] Tencent is looking into ways it could help advance China's domestic chip industry, which could include leveraging its huge data demand to urge domestic chip suppliers to come up with better solutions, or using its WeChat platform to support application developments based on Chinese chips, Ma said.

"It would probably be better if we could get in to support semiconductor R&D, but that is perhaps admittedly not our strong suit and may need the help of others in the supply chain."

Original Submission

Related Stories

Chinese Company Produces Chips Closely Based on AMD's Zen Microarchitecture 33 comments

China Finds Zen: Begins Production Of x86 Processors Based On AMD's IP

Chinese-designed "Dhyana" x86 processors based on AMD's Zen microarchitecture are beginning to surface from Chinese chip producer Hygon. The processors come as the fruit of AMD's x86 IP licensing agreements with its China-based partners and break the decades-long stranglehold on x86 held by the triumvirate of Intel, AMD and VIA Technologies. Details are also emerging that outline how AMD has managed to stay within the boundaries of the x86 licensing agreements but still allow Chinese-controlled interests to design and sell processors based on the Zen design.

AMD's official statements indicate the company does not sell its final chip designs to its China-based partners. Instead, AMD allows them to design their own processors tailored for the Chinese server market. But the China-produced Hygon "Dhyana" processors are so similar to AMD's EPYC processors that Linux kernel developers have listed vendor IDs and family series numbers as the only difference. In fact, Linux maintainers have simply ported over the EPYC support codes to the Dhyana processor and note that they have successfully run the same patches on AMD's EPYC processors, implying there is little to no differentiation between the chips.

The new chips are surfacing against the backdrop of the trade war between the US and China that could escalate quickly, likely reinforcing China's long-held opinion that a lack of native processor production could be a strategic liability. Today's wars are won with chips, and their strategic importance certainly isn't lost on those in the halls of power. In fact, the Obama administration blocked Intel from selling Xeon processors to China in 2015 over concerns the chips were fueling the country's nuclear programs, and subsequent actions by the US have largely prevented China from achieving the technical know-how and equipment to develop its own chips through acquisitions and mergers.

That makes it even more surprising that AMD has managed to establish a franchise that allows Chinese processor vendors to develop and sell x86 processors in spite of US regulations and the licensing restrictions with Intel, but now more information is coming to light about how AMD pulled off the feat.

Related: Intel Launches New Chips in China as US Bans Sales to Supercomputing Centers
Intel Hints at Patent Fight With Microsoft and Qualcomm Over x86 Emulation
Data Centers Consider Intel's Rivals
Tencent Chairman Pledges to Advance China Chip Industry After ZTE "Wake-Up" Call

Original Submission

More on AMD's Licensing of Epyc Server Chips to Chinese Companies 13 comments

Chinese companies are manufacturing chips nearly identical to AMD's Epyc server CPUs, using two joint ventures with AMD. This move comes after the US blacklisted certain Chinese supercomputing centers in 2015 in an attempt to prevent them from using Intel Xeon chips, and more recently, Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE was banned from buying components from US companies. China's Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer (formerly #1 on the TOP500 list) also uses domestically designed Sunway SW26010 manycore chips.

AMD's Epyc "clone army" may end up hurting Intel's server chip market share even more than it already has:

China isn't eager to embrace another American chipmaker like AMD. In response, AMD established two joint ventures with Chinese holding company THATIC -- one with Chengdu Haiguang Microelectronics Technology (CHMT), and another with Haiguang IC Design, also known as Hygon.

AMD owns a majority stake in CHMT, which ensures that its IP isn't transferred to THATIC. THATIC owns a majority stake in Hygon, which licenses AMD's IP from CHMT. Hygon designs the chips, and CHMT produces the chips through a suitable foundry and then sends them back to Hygon for packaging, marketing, and sales.

This arrangement seemingly placates American and Chinese regulators -- AMD's IP isn't being passed to a Chinese company, and a Chinese chipmaker gains access to superior data center CPU designs. AMD generates less revenues through these JVs than it would through direct sales, but it still gains a foothold in China's massive data center market. But more importantly, this move could wound Intel.

Good luck maintaining control of your "IP". As for the pain?

Many big companies, including Microsoft and Baidu, started installing AMD's cheaper chips in their data centers. In a meeting with Nomura Instinet analyst Romit Shah in June, then-CEO Brian Krzanich admitted that AMD was gaining ground, and Intel was trying to prevent it from gaining a "15% to 20%" share of the data center market. That admission was stunning, since Intel traditionally controlled more than 99% of the data center market with its Xeon chips. Intel's data center group grew its revenues by 11% to $19.1 billion last year, and accounted for 30% of its top line. Epyc was already a thorn in Intel's side, but AMD's sponsorship of Chinese clones could throttle its sales in mainland China, which accounted for 24% of its sales last year. Its total sales in the region only rose 6% in 2017, compared to 20% growth in 2016.

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28 2018, @07:37PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28 2018, @07:37PM (#685281)

    What happened to that processor that "uses" Chinese characters instead of ASCII? That was a good starting point.

    • (Score: 2) by jimtheowl on Tuesday May 29 2018, @01:09AM

      by jimtheowl (5929) on Tuesday May 29 2018, @01:09AM (#685379)
      A processor doesn't "use" characters, but I suppose that one could say that it can 'process' them.

      That said, it is not limited to process any particular set of characters.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday May 28 2018, @08:39PM (4 children)

    A former employer of mine owns the US rights to Zeni 4. It was developed in the PRC and competes directly with Cadence and Mentor Graphics.

    I chatted with a chip designer about it, he said it was just as good as its US competitors but is not widely known outside of China.

    In 1981 a UCD physics grad student told me that shrinking US chip feature sizes had the unintended effect of stimulating a real honest to goodness Soviet chip industry.

    This because they were no longer able to reverse the smaller chips.

    Just about the only thing the US could do at this point is to build fabs for smaller sizes faster than the PRC can. I expect that will work just fine for five or ten years.

    Yes I Have No Bananas. []
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28 2018, @08:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28 2018, @08:45PM (#685301)

      Just about the only thing the US could do at this point is to build fabs for smaller sizes faster than the PRC can. I expect that will work just fine for five or ten years.

      Or just long enough for the current shortsighted administration to think that they won their trade war with China, while all they really did was wake up the Chinese to their biggest weakness. so they can start addressing it. Well done...

    • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Monday May 28 2018, @10:46PM (2 children)

      by Snotnose (1623) on Monday May 28 2018, @10:46PM (#685334)

      Just about the only thing the US could do at this point is to build fabs for smaller sizes faster than the PRC can. I expect that will work just fine for five or ten years.

      Nah. The Chinese don't really care about IP. How to make speedy chips is in the literature and patents, there are 3-4 times as many Chinese as Americans, and the Chinese are not complacent. In 10 years they'll be making chips that are 5 years behind Intel/AMD. In 20 they'll be ahead, both in design and fab. For once I'm glad I expect to be dead in 20 years, I suspect this country is in for a world of hurt.

      As an added bonus they won't bother to emulate the x86 architecture, they'll come up with their own. Followed by their own version of Windows, probably based off Linux.

      In this month in 1958 Project Snot was started. This has upset many people and is widely considered a bad idea.
      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Monday May 28 2018, @11:18PM

        IIRC they already have one but I don't think it's widely used


        Yes I Have No Bananas. []
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by takyon on Tuesday May 29 2018, @12:51AM

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Tuesday May 29 2018, @12:51AM (#685374) Journal

        In 10 years they'll be making chips that are 5 years behind Intel/AMD. In 20 they'll be ahead, both in design and fab.

        This timeline doesn't make much sense to me...

        1. Intel has been stagnating at the 14 nm node for years due to low yield for 10 nm.
        2. Pretty much every fab is now dependent on a third party, ASML, delivering the extreme ultraviolet lithography tools that they need to scale further.
        3. What does it mean to be 5 years behind Intel? Haswell chips were released starting in 2013 and the performance gains have been modest since then, and some years have seen no gain.
        4. We're running up towards the atomic limits. In ten years time we will probably be around the 0.5 to 3 nm mark. The only real way forward for classical computing is some kind of massive boost to 100+ gigahertz or terahertz clock rates by using a new material or design that doesn't get as hot, or vertical stacking, again with the need to address heat issues.
        5. SMIC [], at as low as 28 nm, is not so far behind Intel and AMD, and could be considered "5 years behind". Remember, AMD was making 28 nm chips right up until 2017 when it skipped to 14 nm with Ryzen. That's another thing China's fabs could try: acquiring the IP they need, and then skipping nodes.
        6. It was a homegrown manycore chip [] that put China's Sunway TaihuLight [] at #1 supercomputer in the world spot. It uses a RISC architecture instead of x86.

        For once I'm glad I expect to be dead in 20 years, I suspect this country is in for a world of hurt.

        You're too tied to the fate and fortune of the U.S. Maybe retire overseas?

        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by crafoo on Monday May 28 2018, @11:56PM

    by crafoo (6639) on Monday May 28 2018, @11:56PM (#685353)

    Worldwide competition of AMD, Intel, and ARM would be AMAZING. But will the globalists allow us to buy Russian or Chinese processors? It's a real puzzler isn't it. Global supply chains. Enforced localized sale prices and purchasing. It's almost like the globalists don't want to play by their own rules.