back to article China's great CPU hope – Loongson – may be only four years behind Intel

Loongson Technology, the company leading China's charge to develop CPUs locally, claims its most recent desktop effort performs at a level comparable with Intel's tenth-generation Core family. x86 watchers may recall those Intel processors bore the codenames Comet Lake and Ice Lake, were announced in 2019, and dribbled into …

  1. Bebu Silver badge

    Revivified MIPS

    Interesting how far they can push this design. Its a MIPS ISA plus extensions but the basic design of MIPS is pretty ancient by any standard (all the Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstations had MIPS processors.)

    I would have thought a more recent design (which is just about any: Arm, Alpha, Sparc, Power, PA-Risc) might have been a better starting point - even Risc-V. Revisiting the transputer might too be worthwhile.

    May well be a case of its good enough for general computing needs - even Windows appears to have exhausted its reservoir of crap ideas with which to squander cpu cycles but AI/ML can help out there ;)

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Revivified MIPS

      ARM is only 1-2 years younger than MIPS, at most. The others are a little younger, but not by much.

      1. James 139

        Re: Revivified MIPS

        Seems both are from 1985.

        1. FIA Silver badge

          Re: Revivified MIPS

          Also... isn't AARCH64 considered to be more MIPS inspired than ARM32 inspired? (Although ARM32 probably makes superscalar really hard given nearly every op is conditional).

    2. xenny

      Re: Revivified MIPS

      So the obvious question is how much work would it be to get Irix running on this?

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Only 4 years behind ?

    Not bad. Shows promise for the future.

    I'm sure Chinese chip boffins are going to ramp things up. Good for the Chinese. Not so good for Intel.

    On the other hand, commercial relations with China right now are not so good, and their future is completely in the dark. Things could get better, and they could get a lot worse. And given that India is apparently the country of choice for future sweatshops, uh, I mean industry, selling stuff to China is going to be problematic at best.

    So, go Intel ! Try to not get your designs stolen.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Only 4 years behind ?

      Promise, perhaps. But being proprietary is surely a massive roadblock to greater adoption?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @heyrick - Re: Only 4 years behind ?

        Are you trying to imply Intel's technology is not proprietary ?

    2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Only 4 years behind ?

      I think "only" four years is surprisingly close.

      Far better than the Chinese GPU at any rate.

  3. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    It will be interesting to see how the Chinese proceed with this. Clearly it is in their interest to have some autonomy from the west, and probably good for the world in general to have some real choices and diversity of supply chain.

    I would like to see a truly open RISC-V design becoming available that would marry well with open source OS, and that could work well for China and everyone but ARM+Intel, but the Devil is always in the detail*

    [*] details like "management engines"

  4. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    One to watch

    It has long been the case that early generations of challengers in any market are less capable than the incumbents. It has also long been the case that challengers sometimes win, by rapid iteration, understanding the market better than the incumbents, and very simply undercutting on price.

    Still, that's never a guaranteed outcome, more often than not the challengers fail after a promising start. So, as I'm saying increasingly often these days, we will just have to wait and see what happens. I like saying this, because it seems to *really* wind up almost everyone, whether they are pro or anti. It seems not taking sides is the most radical stance one can have, in the modern era.


    1. FIA Silver badge

      Re: One to watch

      In this case the challenger may have less chance of failure, as it's not operating in a free market economy.

  5. luis river

    Intel today dont relevant

    ....only four years behind Intel....Please, four years behind AMD, Intel today dont relevant

  6. Tuto2

    I'm still using an AMD 6300 from 10 years ago, it works great and I have no reazon to change it anytime soon, I'm waiting for a 20-35W processor and graphics built inn for my desktop computer quiet and not necessarily fast around 3 Ghz will do, I have no patience or an apetite for a 300W noisy processor or giant cooling towers and much less water or liquids in it... I don't like $200.00 + graphic cards or their noise and much less a 1000W power supply... I'll be happy with anything, including a Chinese processor that meets that criteria....

    1. James 51

      The ryzen 5600GE fits your bill.

    2. collinsl

      Sounds to me like most i3 or i5 "U" series chips from 7th gen upwards meet your requirements to me.

      1. Tuto2

        It seems like it but I need a desktop with a lot of USB3 and USB-C ports, double channel ram, plus a lot of room for my DVD players and old hard drives!... I like the new M2 drives but they get hot and want my room quiet and don't want to add fans, the HDD drives are fine with me in series so I can backup my database ( movies and photos mainly ).... What I realy like are the Intel Iris Xe graphics or Radeon iGPU, but not at 65W.... Limit them at 35W on a desktop motherboard processor and I'll be in heaven!...

        1. James 51

          Seriously, a 5600GE would suit you well. AM4 is a mature platform with all the stuff you want and it's cheap.

          1. FIA Silver badge

            Plus you can probably underclock and undervolt in the bios to save some power.

            I like the new M2 drives but they get hot and want my room quiet and don't want to add fans

            They don't get hot enough to need a fan. Also... depending on 'how quiet' a large heatsink with a slow fan is barely audiable.

            I do have a 'beefy' PC and GPU, and it only starts making any appreciable noise when playing games, and even then it's not what I would call loud.

            It's certanly not as loud as my old PCs from 15 years ago used to be, they all used 70mm fans, which are noisy... modern coolers now are using 120mm fans which can be spun almost silently whilst still giving enough airflow to do the job.... you can even configure the motherboard to turn off the fan below a certain temp if you want.

            The other option would be something like an intel NUC... My mum uses one (Skylake i3, it's quite old now...) but it is silent and has a good gob of USB-3 ports.

  7. Tuto2

    Design stolen?... It was the Russians that teach Intel how to make processors!... Does Vladimir Pentowsky ring the bell?... Or the Spark processors of the late SUN now Oracle thanks to the Russian Academy of sciences that teach them how to make them!...

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Oh lookee, an account

      Colour me surprised (that's surely blinking magenta of the SAA5050 style).

      1. Tuto2

        If you mix pink and purple you can color yourself magenta!... Color it as a lost in translation pun, I have no idea of what your saying, speak American, watch a movie or something!...

        1. heyrick Silver badge

          "speak American"


          1. Tuto2

            The Saxon dialect is no longer relevant but sice you are using the Latin alphabet add the added 300,000 words of the Latin language that American uses in that way you became more eloquent in the rest of the world...

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Thumb Down


      That was a very odd comment, mad in other words.

      Vladimir Pentowsky was a Soviet/Russian diplomat, Ambassador, professor in history, politician and writer.

      I cannot see him having anything to do with this story.

      And about Spark try this.

      PS. Andy Grove was Hungarian not Russian and escaped to the USA, and while he did work for Intel the history goes behind him.

      1. Tuto2

        Sorry I misspelled his name... Try this... ..... He was a menmber of the Russian Academy of Sciences and was sent with a team to help Intel and show them how to make processors... Hence the name " PENTIUM "...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Land of Opportunity

          Starting in 1986, he led the research and development of the 32-bit microprocessor El-90 which combined the concept of RISC and Elbrus-2 architecture. The logical design of El-90 processor was finished by 1987, with the prototype launched in 1990. At the same time Pentkovski started designing El-91C microprocessor based on El-90 design, but the project was closed due to the changes to Russian political and economic systems.

          In February 1993 Pentkovski started his career at Intel ...

          So he came to the US because his way was blocked in Russia. Now his grave is between Young Wo circle and Mormon Street, in the Lakeside Memorial Lawn Cemetery in Folsom CA - as Apple Pie as Johnny Cash.

          Suprisingly, I've ridden my bike within 100 meters of that grave many times on the American River Bike Trail. Next time I'll stop and say hi.

          Thumbs up for the tip.

        2. FIA Silver badge

          Hence the name " PENTIUM "...

          Pentium is from the Greek for 5, as it would've been the 586, and intel couldn't copyright numbers. (AMD had 386s and 486s for example).

          Pentkovski started his career at intel in Febuary 1993 and the Pentium was released in March, I'm not sure you'd be able to do the entire marketing for a processor launch in a month... or why you'd want to name it after your new hire? ;)

          Fascinating link though, it's always good to hear about people involved in computing that you've not encountered before. Thank you. :)

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Big Brother

    I shall watch with interest

    I actually hope they do well with this. We need more diversity. To much of the world has become dependent on the USA which is steadily becoming more aggressively dictatorial.

    1. WolfFan Silver badge

      Re: I shall watch with interest

      Are you seriously saying that you prefer to trust the _People’s Republic of China_ to supply, and support, your computing needs? Really? The US is ‘aggressively dictatorial’ in comparison with the monsters responsible for Tiananmen Square? Really?

      Note that looking this up in the PRC would result in your getting a visit from the People's Armed Police. Pooh Bear Xi really doesn't like it when people look up that kind of thing. But it's the US which is 'aggressively dictatorial'.

      Do carry on.

      1. Tuto2

        Re: I shall watch with interest

        Do you trust your Iphone or Volvos?... The first is made in China and the second China own them but y'all are using them all the same!...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Samsung and a 1998 Volvo here.

      2. Zolko Silver badge


        Are you seriously ...

        Are you seriously necrobumping a 35-year old uprising to try to prove your point ? If you want more modern data to discuss whether China or US is a more lethal regime, please try with the 1991 Iraq war, the 1999 Yugoslavia war, the 2003 Iraq war, the Syrian and Libyan wars, the thousands of extrajudicial drone-killings ... please add the death-toll of all these wars with that of the Chinese death toll, and we can talk.

        Yes, I'm seriously saying that the US regimes is – by far – the more brutal aggressor of Humanity currently in the world. The world will be a better place when that regime collapses under its debts.

        1. Lars Silver badge

          Re: Tienanmen


          What you don't seem to grasp is that should it collapse it would most likely be replaced with something worse.

          But Americans seem to have some ability to self heal so I am not all that pessimistic.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Tienanmen

          And let's not forget Obama kick started the current crisis for Ukraine when NeoCon Victoria Nuland decided to take her out of the Russian sphere of influence. And now Biden is finishing the job still guided by NeoCon Victoria Nuland.

      3. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: I shall watch with interest

        "with the monsters responsible for Tiananmen Square?"

        Ooooh, if we're going to dig up history, I'll take your Tiananmen Square and raise you a nuclear detonation on another country, twice.


        That's almost comical given the regular shouty book bans going on stateside. God forbid anybody talk about the shitty way black people have been treated since, oh, 1619 or so... And so on.

        Speaking as a non-Chinese and non-American, they're both as bad as each other, only in different ways.

      4. iooool

        Re: I shall watch with interest

        The us went and killed 4.5 million muslims and displaced 40 million others. For what reason? who knows?

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Where as the Loongson CPUs might not be fully supported by Linux yet, i am sure if the Chinese gov really wants to see locally developed tech be the one that in main adoption in China, they can throw a load of developers at optimizing the Linux kernel code for Loongson, even if it might mean maintaining their own forking of the Linux kernel.

    1. iooool

      Loongson engineers are working w the Linux maintainers to get Loongarch support. "Linux" works on Loongson cpu now, but its the matter of maximizing the chip's potential.

  10. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge


    I believe the Chinese, including LongSoon, will soon shift over to RISC-V to keep parity with the West.

    MIPS a long dead (is anyone still using it?) as a contender. I'd guess for at least 15 years, but that's a ballpark figure.

  11. Tubz Silver badge

    In the real world, chip is probably good enough to do the job, "IF" 4 years behind Intel, in cpu terms we are only talking a very small amount in time difference in processing instructions and to be western cpu independent, it is probably worth it to the Chinese and allies. Next comes GPU and they have network, memory and storage independence. So very soon can give Uncle Sam's export block list the finger !

    1. Tuto2

      Graphics are coming to China thanks to the ex-Apple graphics IP PowerVR, spurn by Apple they found and into the hands of China to avoid bankruptcy and made a great partnership where they will deliver graphics processors and China will keep them busy for the next 20 years for various projects.... As to the Chinese been 4 generations behind, I don't think so since I can only find 10th and 11th generations CPU's in the market and barely started dripping slowly 12th generation CPU's in small numbers in products on the market...... As to Support in Linux, just remember that China can trow 10,000 programers to that end as soon they feel they are ready...

      1. FIA Silver badge

        You're not looking hard enough:

        They seem to be in stock here...

        Amazon seems to have plenty to sell to me too.

  12. Mage

    4 years in 2023

    Hardly much given the flattening of the curve.

    Compare with 1983, 1993 and 2003.

  13. iooool

    "Chromebooks" have proliferated with limited processing power and very little native app support, so Loongson can become more mainstream in certain markets. However the biggest hurdle would be getting the price down to be competitive to intel/arm at similar price point.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like