In a nutshell: Loongson has reached a major milestone just two years after it stopped using American tools in a bid to reduce its dependency on foreign technology. The company is reportedly now shipping the LS3D5000, a 32-core processor they say can replace foreign hardware in Chinese data centers.

Loongson announced the 3D5000 at a summit held in Hebi in the Henan province last week. It's the third processor the company has made using its proprietary ISA LoongArch. In July 2021 they announced the quad-core 3A5000, which was supplemented by the 16-core 3C5000 in June 2022. Under the hood, the 3D5000 comprises two 3C5000 core complexes linked together with an IO die.

The 3D5000 uses LA464 cores designed for data center use. It comes clocked at 2 GHz and has 64 MB of L3 cache shared between its two complexes. It supports eight channels of DDR4-3200 ECC memory and five HyperTransport interfaces, which are sort of a cross between PCIe lanes and memory channels. It has a 300W TDP, but Loongson says that it will consume about 150W under most loads.

Image source: Sina Finance

Loongson has built an entire ecosystem around the 3D5000. It has its own socket called the LGA 4129 and a special controller called the 7A2000 that it can be paired with to enable dual-socket and quad-socket setups sporting up to 128 cores. Loongson also announced the 2K050 baseboard management controller (BMC) which is an optional tool to monitor and administer 3C5000 and 3D5000-based servers. It uses the same LA464 cores as the two processors, but downclocked to 500 MHz.

It's hard to predict how CPUs like the 3D5000 will perform. Loongson says that it scores 425 points in the SPEC CPU 2006 integer benchmark, but because of how old that test is, it's hard to compare to the scores of modern processors. The closest point of comparison that we could find was the 32-core AMD Epyc 7601. The six-year old CPU scores 1170 to 1210 points, making it about 2.5x faster than the 3D5000. While that would still be a good result for Loongson, it does show how far Loongson has to go before it can compete with AMD and Intel. And maybe it never will.

Loongson was blacklisted by the US last month because it sold processors to the Chinese military. As a result, it can't purchase any American equipment or partner with companies that currently use American equipment. Although both Loongson and its manufacturing partner SMIC were prepared to be blacklisted, it might not be possible for them to survive without the injection of foreign tech.

Masthead credit: MyDrivers