Hygon, the China-based microprocessor design company today announced that it has begun mass production of its first x86 processors, codenamed “Dhyana” and based on AMD’s Zen microarchitecture, which is the company’s latest successful x86-based design.
Hygon begins design of Dhyana processors, based on AMD’s Zen microarchitecture
Hygon’s design of Zen-based processors is the result of an agreement signed in 2016, whereby a company called Haiguang Microelectronics Company (HMC), in which AMD has a 51 percent stake, licensed the Zen architecture to Hygon, in which AMD has a 30 percent stake. These Zen-based Dhyana processors will be manufactured by an external foundry, most likely TSMC.
This agreement is needed to ensure that AMD will deliver the $293 million it will take for Chinese firms to license the Zen architecture, without violating the x86 architecture cross-licensing agreement it signed with Intel, the owner of the architecture.
Chinese companies have decided to build their Dhyana processors instead of relying on AMD’s EPYC processors, not only because they want greater control over the supply of these chips, but also to ensure that China can monitor all the software that runs the processor, and eliminate any backdoors for foreign governments. It is no secret that China wants to reduce its dependence on other countries.
This agreement to license the Zen architecture will allow AMD to obtain a good source of income, something important since money is not exactly something left over at the Sunnyvale company.
The finished processors are then bought by Hygon and finally sold under their own name – as Dhyana and probably exclusively in the Chinese market.
The US government has banned the export of processors or technology to China for years, which is why there are now several joint ventures and in-house developments. These include Thatic and Zhaoxin and Huaxintong (a JV with Qualcomm), but also the chips like the SW26010 in the Sunway Taihu Light or the Matrix 2000 GPDSPs in the Tianhe-2A, the two fastest Chinese supercomputers.
And I think in a few years the Chinese will no longer need the cooperation with the USA because they will then be able to manufacture their own products more cheaply with the basic knowledge and production technology.
Yes, the USA is burying its technical lead in the processor area with its policy.
In other areas, they are long outdated. I really wonder whether US policy now has any idea what it is doing.