China Finds Zen: Begins Production Of x86 Processors Based On AMD's IP [tomshardware.com]
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 [tomshardware.com] 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 [lkml.org] 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 [phoronix.com].
The new chips are surfacing against the backdrop of the trade war between the US and China [tomshardware.com] 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 [bbc.com] 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 [soylentnews.org]
Intel Hints at Patent Fight With Microsoft and Qualcomm Over x86 Emulation [soylentnews.org]
Data Centers Consider Intel's Rivals [soylentnews.org]
Tencent Chairman Pledges to Advance China Chip Industry After ZTE "Wake-Up" Call [soylentnews.org]