Chinese chip producer Hygon begins production of China-made x86 processors named “Dhyana”. These processors use AMD’s Zen microarchitecture and are the result of the licensing deal between AMD and its Chinese partners. Hygon has started shipping the new “Dhyana” x86 CPUs.
According to the official statements made by AMD, it does not permit the selling of the final chip designs to its partners in China instead it encourages their partners to design their own processors that suit the needs of the Chinese server market. This is an effort to break China’s dependency on the foreign technology market.
In 2016, AMD announced that it is working on a joint project in China to develop processors.
This provided AMD with a $293 million in cash by Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co. (THATIC). THATIC includes AMD as well as the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
What’s interesting is that AMD managed to establish a license allowing Chinese processor manufacturers to develop and sell x86 processors despite the fact that Intel was blocked from selling Xeon processors to China in 2015 by the Obama administration. This happened over concerns that the chips would help China’s nuclear weapon programs.
Dhyana processors are focusing on embedded applications currently. It is a System on chip ( SoC) instead of a socketed chip. But this design doesn’t limit the Dhyana processors from being used in high-performance or data center applications, which usually leverages Intel Xeon and other server processors.
Also, Linux kernels developers have stated that the x86 processors are very close in design to that of AMD’s EPYC. In fact, when moving the Linux kernel code for EPYC processors to the Hygon chips, it required fewer than 200 new lines of code, according to a report from Michael Larabel of Phoronix. The only difference between the two is the vendor IDs and family series.
Apart from AMD, there are other chip-producing ventures that China is heavily engrossed in. One such venture is Zhaoxin Semiconductor that is working to manufacture x86 chips through a partnership with VIA. China is making continuous efforts to free the country from US interventions and to change their long-term processor market.
There are implications that most of the x86 processors are 14nm chips, but there isn’t much information available on the capabilities of the Dhyana family. Also, other details of their manufacturing characteristics are still to be known.