China’s Loongson Unveils 32-Core CPU, Reportedly 4X Faster Than Arm Chip

Loongson, a Chinese fabless chipmaker, has launched the new 3D5000 processor for data centers and cloud computing. MyDrivers (opens in new tab) reported that Loongson claims its 32-core domestic chips deliver 4X higher performance than rival Arm processors.

The 3D5000 still leverages LoongArch, Loongson’s homemade instruction set architecture (ISA) from 2020. The chipmaker was previously a firm believer in MIPS. However, Loongson eventually built LoongArch from the ground up with the sole objective of not relying on foreign technology to develop its processors. LoongArch is a RISC (reduced instruction set computer) ISA, similar to MIPS or RISC-V.

The 3D5000 arrives with 32 LA464 cores running at 2 GHz. The 32-core processor has 64MB of L3 cache, supports eight-channel DDR4-3200 ECC memory, and up to five HyperTransport (HT) 3.0 interfaces. It also supports dynamic frequency and voltage adjustments. Officially, the 3D5000 has a 300W TDP; however, Loongson stated that the conventional power consumption is around 150W. That’s roughly 5W per core.

The 3D5000 flaunts a chiplet design since Loongson has glued together two 16-core 3C5000 processors. Loongson developed the 3C5000 server part to compete with AMD’s Zen and Zen+ architectures. The latest 3D5000, which measures 75.4 x 58.5 x 7.1mm,  slides into a custom LGA4129 socket. 

The processor supports 2P and 4P configurations; therefore, Loongson has launched the 7A2000 bridge chip to manage the communication between the processors and other components. As per the chip designer, the 7A2000 is up to 400% faster than the previous generation. Furthermore, with the help of the 7A2000, there’s a possibility to scale up to 128 cores per motherboard.

According to Loongson’s provided numbers, the 3D5000 scores over 425 points in SPEC CPU 2006, a depreciated benchmark replaced with the newer SPEC CPU 2017 version. The 3D5000 also delivers over 1 TFLOPs of FP64 performance, up to 4X higher than regular Arm cores. Meanwhile, the processor’s stream performance with eight channels of DDR4-3200 memory crosses the 50GB mark.

While performance isn’t the 3D5000’s strong suit, security is. The 32-core processor allegedly has a custom-made mechanism to defend against vulnerabilities such as Meltdown or Spectre. The chip also has its Trusted Platform Module (TPM), so it doesn’t rely on an external solution. In addition, according to MyDrivers’ report, the 3D5000 also supports a secret national algorithm with an embedded security module that seemingly delivers excellent encryption and decryption efficiency higher than 5 Gbps.

In addition to the 3D5000 and 7A2000, Loongson also announced the 2K050, the company’s baseboard management controller (BMC). The 2K050 features LA264 cores at 500 MHz, integrated 2D GDP, 32-bit DDR3 support, and outputs at a 1080p (1920×1080) resolution at 60 Hz.

Loongson’s 3D5000 is no match for AMD’s EPYC Genoa or Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors. It was never about beating the foreign competition but pushing for self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, with the ongoing U.S. sanctions, Chinese companies have no means to secure chipmaking tools originating from the U.S. In addition, the U.S. Department of Commerce recently blacklisted Loongson, which likely derailed some of the company’s plans.