Chinese Loongson CPU Takes on AMD’s Zen 3 in Benchmarks

MyDrivers has published a review of Loongson’s 3A6000 quad-core CPU, confirming that the chip’s IPC improvements are real. Benchmarks reveal that the 3A6000 enjoys an impressive 60% performance uplift in single-core performance and an even more impressive 2x performance multiplier in multi-core performance over its 3A5000 predecessor. With these improvements, the 3A6000 features performance comparable to a Core i3-10100F, with the IPC performance of a Zen 3 chip.

Of course, both Intel’s Comet Lake 10th Gen architecture and AMD’s Zen 3 architecture are now coming up on three years old. They’re nowhere near the top of our list of the best CPUs for gaming or other purposes. But it still represents a step in the right direction.

Loongson’s 3A6000 is the company’s latest CPU featuring its home-brewed Dragon CPU architecture. The chip sports a quad-core design featuring multi-threading support, with a new 6-way multiple-issue design that makes the 3A6000 substantially more efficient than its predecessor. The chip’s clock speed is rated at 2.5GHz. However, the CPU does not feature native x86 support due to political reasons. As a result, it features fully proprietary instructions in place of x86-supported instruction sets and utilizes virtualization and translation techniques to run x86 applications (when needed).

The 3A6000 was tested in SPEC CPU 2006 and UnixBench against Intel’s Core i3-10100F and AMD’s Ryzen 3 3100 entry-level CPUs. In Spec CPU 2006, the Loongson chip was 5% slower than the i3-10100F, and anywhere between 10-15% slower than the Ryzen 3 3100 in the single-core and multi-core tests.

UnixBench showed similar results for the 3A6000. The Chinese CPU was 2% slower than the i3-10100F and 8% slower compared to the Ryzen 3 3100 in the single-core test. In the multi-core benchmark, the 3A6000 was 8% slower than the i3-10100F and 11% slower than the Ryzen 3 3100.

These new benchmark reports confirm previous performance analyses by Loongsoon themselves stating that the A36000 chip would feature comparable performance to Intel’s older 10th Gen Comet Lake CPUs. The 3A6000 doesn’t beat Intel’s Core i3-10100F counterpart, but it does get relatively close. At the same time, these tests represent a limited overview of performance and are generally synthetic in nature.

Longsoon’s original IPC analysis has so far been proven to be legitimate. Even though the 3A6000 is only targeting Comet Lake performance, it’s doing it at just 2.5GHz, which is substantially lower than the Core i3-10100F’s 4.3 GHz peak turbo clock. If Longsoon can figure out how to boost clock speeds to 4GHz or higher, its CPU architecture might be able to compete with the likes of AMD’s and Intel’s more recent CPU architectures.

This will be important as Longsoon continues to try and compete with its Western competitors in the race for higher CPU performance. And with increasing export restrictions, the Chinese government will have plenty of reasons to continue supporting one of its most successful home grown alternatives.

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