China-based Zhaoxin is best known for its homegrown x86 processors, but according to a report from cnTechPost, the company recently teased a new low-cost 70W discrete GPU in a video posted to its newly-redesigned website. The video has since been removed, but the website grabbed a snip of the company’s roadmap, which lists the new stand-alone 70W GPU that will be fabbed using TSMC’s 28nm process.
Zhaoxin is best known for its CPUs, like the KaiXin CPU we recently tested, that are designed entirely in China. The company is backed by Chinese government-controlled interests, with the state-owned Shanghai SASAC owning 80% of the company while VIA, which provides the x86 license, owns 20% of the company.
The company didn’t reveal many details of the GPU, though we know it will slot into a relatively low 70W TDP and come with TSMC’s 28nm process. The GPU will purportedly come to market later this year. The company’s use of the 28nm process obviously lags the industry norm, with stalwarts like AMD and Nvidia already moving on to TSMC’s 7nm tech, but that could be due to the threat of potential US sanctions that could prevent TSMC from providing 16nm and smaller processes to its China customers on the grounds that the newer processes are based on US IP.
It’s unclear how Zhaoxin would be able to produce a full-fledged and competitive GPU without infringing on graphics IP from AMD, Nvidia, or Intel. However, as we covered in our KaiXan review, Zhaoxin’s parent company VIA has access (via a previous acquisition) to graphics IP from S3 graphics.
Zhaoxin also has integrated graphics units for its CPU platform, though the GPUs are embedded in the chipset. Our tests found these graphics units to be woefully inadequate compared to the integrated graphics on competing CPUs, even Intel’s lackluster UHD 630, but extending that architecture out to a larger die with a higher TDP envelope would obviously improve performance. However, we wouldn’t expect the new graphics cards to eclipse even older AMD and Nvidia graphics cards.
Zhaoxin’s existing iGPUs support DX11, OpenCL 1.1, and OpenGL 3.2 and features hardware-accelerated video encoding and decoding, but details are scarce and GPU monitoring applications couldn’t scrape any further details on the architectural components. The integrated graphics support DisplayPort, eDP, HDMI and VGA interfaces and can simultaneously output to two screens at a 4K resolution.
Given the 70W TDP envelope, it’s conceivable that these cards will be destined for low-cost desktop systems, thus providing China a possible alternative if the US-China tradewar intensifies.