China's Longsoon 3A6000 CPU Battles Intel's Core i5-14600K With Surprising Results

Loongson 3A6000 China CPU news
Technological autonomy has been a priority for China in recent years, partly because the country can't import cutting-edge chips thanks to US sanctions, and also because being self-sufficient is popular policy. At the forefront of China's native CPU industry is Loongson, which has at last released its much-anticipated 3A6000. Last year, the company claimed this CPU would have instructions per clock (or IPC) equal to that of AMD's Zen 3 architecture, and it seems that promise might have been fulfilled as the 3A6000 went toe-to-toe with the Core i5-14600K in a recent benchmark.

Tested by ASUS China's Tony (who goes by Ordinary Uncle Tony online) using his company's 3A6000 compatible motherboard, the Loongson-made chip performed about equally to the Core i5-14600K in SPEC CPU 2006 when both chips were locked to 2.5GHz. This serves as a test of IPC, as SPEC CPU is a very heavily compute-bound benchmark, and the 3A6000 slightly outperformed in the integer test while the 14600K took a small lead in floating point performance.

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Having IPC on par with Intel and AMD is really impressive, as it all comes down to architectural design and that's the hardest part to get right in a processor. Famously (or perhaps notoriously), AMD's Bulldozer CPUs were crippled by their poor IPC in virtually every single scenario, and ever since, IPC has been an important metric for AMD to improve in further generations of CPUs. Similarly, Intel's struggles to get 10nm CPUs out the door meant it fell behind in IPC and other areas for a few years.

Of course, IPC is just one part of the equation, the other being clock speed. The thing is, the 3A6000's stock clock speed is 2.5GHz, not even half of the 14600K's 5.3GHz boost frequency. Consequently, even Intel's old Core i3-10100 with its 4.3GHz clock speed was easily faster than the 3A6000 in the UnixBench test, where clock speed was not locked to 2.5GHz. Had Tony tested the 14600K in the same test, the 3A6000 probably would have gotten destroyed. So, Loongson's next job will seemingly be scaling clock rates, and that depends on both architecture and manufacturing process.
Tags:  Loongson, CPUs, 3a6000