What just happened? Chinese company Loongson Technology is busy creating the next generation of its homemade PC processors. A recent social post seemingly suggests that development is going well, and Loongson could reach parity with Western x86 CPUs sooner rather than later.

Chief architect Hu Weiwu started development of the Loongson chip technology in 2001, but things have now become much more complicated because of the sanctions imposed by the US government against Chinese companies. Loongson technology is however still making strides - if recent information coming from Chinese social networks are somewhat based on actual facts.

Last week, Loongson shared a post on QQ.com detailing the performance of its Loongson 3A6000 processor. The new CPU is provided with four computing cores working at a 2.5GHz frequency, the company stated, representing a new generation of Loongson tech which was just successfully taped out. The company showed the test results achieved by China Electronics Standardization Institute (CESI), likely to provide a "third-party" vibe to its performance claims.

CESI seemingly used SPEC CPU 2006, a benchmark tool designed to stress a system's CPU, memory subsystem and toolchain. The suite was retired in 2018, though, five years before the new Chinese tests. According to data provided by Loongson, the 3A6000 CPU scored 43.1/54.6 points in single-thread fixed/floating point tests, and 155/140 points in multi-threaded fixed/floating point tests. The processor was able to deliver 42GB/sec bandwidth with DDR4-3200 dual-channel memory modules, while Unixbench achieved a score of 7400 points.

Loongson states that these results put the 3A6000 quad-core CPU on par with quad-core x86-64 processors released by Intel three years ago. In 2020 Intel launched its Comet Lake architecture with the 10th-gen Core CPUs, which included six Core i3 models with four cores and eight computing threads. After Comet Lake, Intel release three more main desktop microarchitectures and is ready to deliver Meteor Lake, the 14th-gen Core CPUs based on a chiplet design and equipped with a "Vision Processing Unit" to accelerate AI loads.

Loongson 3A6000 uses the new LoongArch architecture, a poorly documented ISA which was mostly derived from MIPS. The RISC-based MIPS architecture was developed by the namesake US company, which retired the technology in 2021 and adopted the RISC-V architecture. Loongson continued MIPS development after licensing the MIPS32 and MIPS64 architectures in 2011, and LooongArch is speculated to include design choices derived from both MIPS and RISC-V.

Even if performance claims over CPU hardware are true, Loongson will likely have a more difficult time on the software front. Linux kernel and operating systems still don't provide full support for the LoongArch ISA, and a working Windows version that could run on the new processors is clearly out of the question.