Chinese chip maker Loongson Technology on Thursday unveiled its fully in-house developed instruction set architecture, Loongson Architecture, or LoongArch, marking a major milestone for the Chinese IC industry.
Loongson was previously one of the key proponents of the MIPS instruction system. The move making it the latest company to abandon MIPS after Wave Computing's move to the RISC-V camp.
Loongson commissioned LoongArch to be evaluated by a leading third-party IP evaluator. Beginning in the second quarter of 2020, the parties invested hundreds of people in an in-depth comparative analysis of LoongArch against information and tens of thousands of patents related to major international instruction systems such as ALPHA, ARM, MIPS, POWER, RISC-V, and X86.
In January 2021, the evaluation organization concluded that LoongArch has designed its own instruction system design, instruction format, instruction encoding, and addressing modes.
The LoongArch instruction system manual is significantly different from the major international instruction systems mentioned above in terms of chapter structure, instruction description structure, and instruction content presentation.
The LoongArch infrastructure has not identified any risk of infringement of Chinese patents on the above-mentioned major international instruction systems, the evaluation concluded.
The CPU instruction system is the hardware and software interface of a computer, and is the specification of the binary coding format of the software instructions executed by the CPU.
At present, the most well-known ones are the x86 instruction system based on the Wintel ecosystem and the ARM instruction system based on the Android operating system.
Both the x86 and ARM instruction systems need to be "licensed" in order to develop CPUs compatible with them, and it is possible to develop products using licensed instruction systems, but it is not possible to form an autonomous industrial ecosystem.
RISCV is a completely open source instruction system, but it comes from the University of Berkeley. Therefore, Loongson Architecture is a historical breakthrough for the Chinese IC industry.
The CPUs developed by Loongson since 2020 all support the LoongArch architecture.
Its first Loongson 3A5000 processor chip supporting LoongArch architecture has been taped out, and a complete operating system based on the new architecture is already running stably on the 3A5000 computer.
Binary translation systems from other mainstream instruction systems to LoongArch have been demonstrated on the 3A5000 computer running complex applications based on other mainstream instruction systems.
Currently, Loongson has published the LoongArch infrastructure instruction system manual on a limited basis. Upon completion of further IP evaluation, including offshore patent analysis, Loongson will release a more complete LoongArch instruction system manual on a larger scale.