Chinese-designed “Dhyana” x86 processors based on AMD’s Zen microarchitecture are beginning to surface from Chinese chip producer Hygon. The processors come as the fruit of AMD’s x86 IP licensing agreements with its China-based partners and break the decades-long stranglehold on x86 held by the triumvirate of Intel, AMD and VIA Technologies. Details are also emerging that outline how AMD has managed to stay within the boundaries of the x86 licensing agreements but still allow Chinese-controlled interests to design and sell processors based on the Zen design.
Even though I doubt this will have any meaningful impact on competition, it’s always good to see new x86 manufacturers. The licensing situation around x86 always feels impenetrable and mysterious to me, almost as if it was specifically designed and set up to divide up the x86 market, a huge cash cow for several decades now. With ARM use being on the rise and the architecture even making its first inroads into laptops, servers, and maybe even desktops, the x86 cash cow is starting to look mightily starved.