If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you might have noticed a few recent posts focusing on past and present MIPS64 CPUs that have set new records in high performance and power efficiency:
— Alexandru Voica (@alexvoica) August 14, 2015
Today I’d like to highlight a new MIPS64-based, high-performance architecture and two corresponding processors coming out of China courtesy of Loongson Technology. The company organized a swanky launch event where its chief architect introduced a 64-bit processor architecture called GS464E, and Loongson-3A2000 and 3B2000, two quad-core processors based on GS464E.
Building ultra-high performance MIPS64 CPUs at low power consumption
Both Loongson-3A2000 and 3B2000 are 4-way superscalar processors built on a 9-stage, super-pipelined architecture with in-order execution units, two floating-point units, a memory management unit, and an innovative crossbar interconnect. Several reports from China position 3A2000 as a flagship CPU aimed at the high-performance consumer electronics market (e.g. desktop computers and laptops, 64-bit embedded and DSP applications, and network routers) while 3B2000 will be used in a number of home-grown eight and 16-core server systems.
The 3B series also features Loongson-3B1500, a MIPS64-based superscalar processor clocked at 1.5GHz; platforms integrating an octa-core 3B1500 configuration can deliver up to 192 GFLOPS of peak performance at only 30W.
Loongson chief architect Hu Weiwu also exclusively confirmed to Imagination that his team plans to release two now chips in 2016: 3A3000 and 3B3000. These processors will be built on a leading 28nm process node and clocked closer to 2GHz, therefore increasing the company’s competitive advantage.
For now, benchmarking data released last week for Loongson-3A2000 shows the MIPS64-based powerhouse CPU surpassing several competing processors in performance efficiency:
Thanks to a series of significant microarchitectural enhancements, performance figures for the new chips show a 2.7x improvement over the previous generation cores (Loongson-3A1000 and Loongson-3B1000, respectively).
Loongson GS464E and extending the MIPS64 architecture
The new GS464E architecture counts over 1,400 instructions grouped under a set called LoongISA; these instructions include:
- MIPS64 Release 3 instructions for high-performance, general-purpose computing
- LoongBT, a binary translation technology that enables developers to run x86 and ARM code
- LoongVM instructions for custom virtual machines
- LoongSIMD instructions for 128- and 256-bit vector arithmetic operations
All Loongson CPUs run LOONGNIX, an open source distribution of Linux optimized for the GS464E architecture.
Innovation in China’s semiconductor market
Originally launched in 2010 as the result of a public–private partnership, Loongson focused initially on R&D and academic activities in the field of 64-bit computing.
Presently, Loongson is gearing up to become a solid contender in the Asian embedded market. This new push was visible during the launch event where multiple partners showcased products using Loongson CPUs, including Sugon Information Industry, China Aerospace Science and Industry, Tsinghua Tongfang Co., Neusoft Corp. and Ruijie Networks.
China is often seen as the world’s factory, making many of the devices and platforms we use on a daily basis. However, it imports well over 80% of the semiconductors it consumes for end products that are both exported out of China, and products that stay in China to be used by domestic consumers.
For that reason, the Chinese government sees semiconductors as a strategic industry, with domestic players having the potential to increase their market share versus overseas vendors. Therefore, investing in semiconductor design and manufacturing has become an important national strategy for China – and Loongson is capitalizing on this new wave of investment in Chinese semiconductor companies. After ten years of accumulated R&D and market exploration in the field of CPU architecture and design, Loongson has been steadily building a strong ecosystem of customers and gearing up for its next phase of expansion.