China's latest Loongson 3A6000 desktop-grade CPU allegedly on par with Intel's i3-10320 quad-core
Previous Chinese attempts at catching up to Intel or AMD on the desktop side have mostly failed miserably, but, as the restriction wars between the US and China yet again intensify, Beijing’s need to completely sever ties with all Western technologies is leading to increased efforts from companies such as Loongson. Based on the MIPS32 / MIPS64 as well as RISC-V ISAs, Loongson’s proprietary instruction set known as LoongArch has been in development for more than 20 years now, and the latest version is now included with the 3A6000 processor that is said to have taped out recently.
According to a Loongson announcement made on Chinese site QQ.com, the new 3A6000 processor integrates four compute cores clocked at 2.5 GHz. Loongson claims that the performance of the 3A6000 processor is on par with Intel’s 10th gen quad-core models launched in 2020. However, Intel launched it's 10th gen desktop models in 2019, so Loongson is probably referring to Intel’s Comet Lake i3-10320 or i3-10300 quad-core CPUs.
Longsoon bases its performance claims on tests performed by the China Electronics Standardization Institute in SPEC CPU 2006, a processor benchmark that is no longer updated since 2018. Nevertheless, the 3A6000 CPU scored 43.1 / 54.6 points in single-thread fixed / floating point loads, and 155 / 140 points in multi-threaded fixed / floating point loads, while UnixBench recorded a 7438 score. Additionally, the DDR4-3200 RAM coupled with the CPU peaked at 42 GB/s bandwidth.
If the claims are indeed accurate, China might be able to catch up with Intel in the next 5 years, as predicted by Team Blue last year. Still, tuning processors to perform well in deprecated synthetic tests might not be as complicated as providing meaningful software support for the most popular operating systems. For now, the Loongson CPUs only feature partial support for the Linux kernel, whereas Windows is completely unsupported, given China’s plans to replace the US-made OS with a “homemade” alternative.