Export bans prompt Russia to use Chinese x86 CPU replacement • The Register

Export bans prompt Russia to use Chinese x86 CPU replacement • The Register

With Russia cut off from foreign processor manufacturers Intel and AMD, the country has been struggling to switch to more local CPUs and components.

Russia’s latest step in securing supply chains for new computers comes in the form of a newly launched desktop motherboard designed to support x86-compatible CPUs made by Chinese chip designer Zhaoxin, which is a joint venture between Via Technologies of Taiwan and the municipal government of Shanghai.

The new motherboard, called the MBX-Z60A, is being manufactured by electronics maker Dannie, which is headquartered in Russia and China, according to an automatic translation of an article published last week by Russian news aggregator Habr.

The motherboard was designed to help Russia replace the x86 processors it can no longer obtain from Intel and AMD due to export bans imposed by the US and other countries.

Habr said Danny LLC, Dannie’s Russian motherboard-producing division, has the capacity to manufacture tens of thousands of boards each month, and that could expand over time.

The MBX-Z60A has a micro-ATX form factor, which means it can fit on smaller desktops, and the CPU inside is the Zhaoxin KaiXian KX-6640MA. There is conflicting information about processor specifications. Habr said it has eight cores, but test results for Geekbench and PassMark benchmarks indicate that the KX-6640MA has four cores.

This is corroborated in a CNX Software report, where benchmarks showed a base frequency of 2.1 GHz, a turbo frequency of 2.6 GHz, a 4 MB L2 cache, and a 25 watt thermal design power. . The processor also includes 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity and USB 3.0 support.

In other words, the KX-6640MA is not far behind in terms of features, but it is also not fast at all, even compared to recent smartphone chips, as Habr points out.

According to test results presented for the PassMark benchmark, the KX-6640MA had an average CPU score of 1,566, which puts it at a fraction of the score of 8,543 scored by Apple’s A14 Bionic chip. includes the 2020 iPhone 12 smartphone family.

When you compare the KX-6640MA to Intel’s quad-core options, it’s very unfavorable for Zhaoxin, as it looks like the CPU came out last year. For example, the 2011 Intel Core i5-2500K has an average CPU score that is 2.5 times higher than that of the KX-6640MA, and this year’s Intel Core i3-12100 score is more than 9 times higher.

Habr said the KX-6640MA should still be suitable for a “wide range of office tasks” and that at least the processor will be compatible with x86-based software. But its slow nature underscores the problems Russia has created in committing atrocities against a neighboring country.

The KX-6640MA will also enter a new laptop manufactured by Russian device maker Tonk, as reported by Russian computer news site iXBT.com earlier this month.

As for other efforts to help Russia replace Intel and AMD CPUs in computers, a state-backed company called Rostec was working on portable chips using the code-set RISC-V instruction set architecture. open, according to a report last year.

On the server side, Russia has been tightening its export bans with the introduction of a new supercomputer platform that can use foreign x86 CPUs, as well as the country’s Elbrus processors. The idea is to help developers bring x86-based programs to Elbrus.

But even then, the performance of Elbrus-based servers has not been promising, with Russian-language site ServerNews.ru reporting in December that SberInfra, the technology division of Russia’s largest bank, Sber, found that Elbrus processors were unsuitable for multiple workloads. “Insufficient memory, slow memory, few cores [and] low frequency. “®

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