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posted by martyb on Thursday June 06 2019, @05:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the THATIC-not-ecstatic dept.

AMD has no plans to license its Zen 2 microarchitecture to the Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co. Ltd. (THATIC) joint venture:

AMD CEO Lisa Su confirmed to Tom's Hardware at Computex 2019 that the company isn't licensing further chip designs to its China-backed joint venture. That means that AMD's chip-producing joint venture in China will be confined to the Zen architecture that debuted in first-gen Ryzen and EPYC Naples processors, but will not move forward with designs based on AMD's new Zen 2 microarchitecture that powers the third-gen Ryzen and EPYC Rome processors.

[...] The agreement allowed Hygon, a Chinese server vendor, to design specialized processors based upon AMD's Zen microarchitecture, which is the underlying design of AMD's Ryzen and EPYC processors. Many of the architectural customizations consisted of specialized cryptographic elements that meet the requirements of the Chinese government, with the first products consisting of Hygon's 'Dhyana' x86 processors that appeared to be near-replicas of AMD's EPYC data center processors. We are told there are other optimizations to the architecture that are designed specifically for the Chinese market, but we haven't been given more details. Sugon, a Chinese government-backed server vendor, also had plans for a Zen 2-based exascale supercomputer, but the status of that project is now unknown.

[...] We asked Lisa Su if the company would continue working with the THATIC joint venture amid the U.S.-China trade war, and Su said that while the company is continuing the joint venture, "we are not discussing any additional technology transfers," and elaborated that most of the work took place on the JV's side, while there "is not a lot of work on the AMD side."

"THATIC was a single-generation technology license, and there are no additional technology licenses," Su explained, though she did not clarify if the decision not to extend the technology transfers was a direct result of the trade war. That means that the technology transfer, which provided THATIC with access to the first-gen Zen microarchitecture, will not be extended to allow the Chinese chipmaker access to AMD's Zen 2 microarchitecture.

Also at TechSpot.

Previously: Chinese Company Produces Chips Closely Based on AMD's Zen Microarchitecture
More on AMD's Licensing of Epyc Server Chips to Chinese Companies

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: 2) by Bot on Thursday June 06 2019, @06:42AM (2 children)

    by Bot (3902) on Thursday June 06 2019, @06:42AM (#852100) Journal

    AMD: and we'll call it ZEN
    China: cool I want one (billion)
    AMD: Hahaha no.

    Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06 2019, @06:49AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06 2019, @06:49AM (#852102)

      DO not LICENSE to Ethanol_Fueled. Well known in the Intell community that he is a compromised Chinese assest. Proceed accrodingly. Mossad confirms.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06 2019, @07:20AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06 2019, @07:20AM (#852108)

      One was fine, two was too much.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06 2019, @11:30AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06 2019, @11:30AM (#852170)

    they are already bootstrapped

    I'll bet china becomes a 3rd x86 designer and amd sees little revenue from this.

  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday June 06 2019, @12:55PM (2 children)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 06 2019, @12:55PM (#852193) Homepage Journal

    Is this related to Trump's export ban?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by takyon on Thursday June 06 2019, @01:23PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Thursday June 06 2019, @01:23PM (#852203) Journal

      I don't think so. I think it has to do with maximizing profits and protecting IP.

      China was buying up lots of Intel Xeon chips at one point, until the U.S. threw a wrench at that. Now China has more homegrown chips than before, as well as these licensed Epyc/Ryzen clones. Even if AMD does not share Zen 2, maybe Hygon will just make their own improvements.

      Will AMD be able to sell a lot of "7nm" and better Epyc chips to China? Maybe if they are desperate to build a national prestige exaflops supercomputer.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06 2019, @08:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 06 2019, @08:27PM (#852416)

      IDK, but we should abolish the IRS and the Federal Reserve and institute tariffs on foreign goods from all countries, higher percent on countries who fuck around. reduce the fed gov until it can be afforded with only these tariffs. outlaw national debt. the suited whores on TV whine about it being a tax on the consumer. yeah? good! buy american and shut your pie hole. make it cheaper to make things here.