The little known Taiwanese chip giant VIA, best known for manufacturing motherboard chipsets is set to release an 8 core x86 processor to compete with Intel and AMD. X86 processors are the more powerful processors used in PCs more intensive processing work such as gaming, companies require a license to be able to manufacture these chips. AMD and a company called Cyrix acquired their licenses from Intel by suing them for antitrust, Cyrix later went bankrupt and was acquired by VIA. x86 licenses are non-transferable so technically VIA was not licensed to produce x86 chips even after acquiring Cyrix but after Intel and VIA sued each other for patent infringement, VIA acquired an x86 license as part of the settlement.
Technically this is not the first x86 CPU that VIA has manufactured, but all of VIA’s offerings have low core counts, low clock speeds and large manufacturing process nodes. The last we heard from VIA was in 2014 when a refresh of their 2008 Isaiah x86 architecture was announced. VIA has been working with a company called Zhaoxin since 2013 and a roadmap of their new architecture has been released.
As the image shows, The KX-5000 series has already been released, in fact Lenovo has utilised this SoC in some of their pre-built systems. These chips only have measly clock speeds of up to 2GHz and are made on TSMC’s 28nm process.
More interesting is the section which says “future”, the KX-6000 series will have clock speeds of up to 3GHz and use the 16nm process and the KX-7000 series will feature PCIe 4.0 and DDR5. The VIA Zhaoxin chips look set to reach a level of performance competitive with AMD Ryzen processors according to a presentation that accompanied the slide. More competition is always good in the tech industry as monopolies lead to lazy products and lack of innovation as demonstrated for years by Intel until 2017 when AMD shocked them into action with their surprisingly successful Ryzen lineup.