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Chinese firm starts making Dhyana x86 CPUs based on AMD Zen

Posted on Monday, July 09 2018 @ 10:56:18 CEST by

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Chinese chip maker Hygon is now manufacturing its first processors based on AMD's Zen architecture. The new Dhyana x86 CPUs are the result of licensing deals with AMD, Tom's Hardware reports AMD found a way to stay within the bounds of the x86 licensing agreements while still allowing Chinese parties to design and sell chips based on the Zen design. In particular, this was achieved via Thatic, a joint-venture AMD has with several Chinese manufacturers. Thatic in turn has ownership of two other companies: HMC and Hygon. The former owns the x86 IP, and AMD has a 51 percent stake in that company.
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 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 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.
One caveat is that these chips can only be sold within China's borders, but that's still a huge market for the Chinese chip makers. It could become a nice royalty source for AMD, while serving as a blow to Intel's marketshare in China.



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