Alibaba’s chip subsidiary Pingtouge unveiled on Thursday its first processor, the XuanTie 910, which can be used in applications for sectors including 5G, artificial intelligence, and autonomous driving.
The release comes as China’s government urges the domestic tech industry to boost its prowess in the chip sector, which lags behind that of the United States and Japan.
Pingtouge says that the new processor could lower the costs of related chip production by more than 50%.
The company indicated that the XuanTie 910 is soon expected to be available for commercial sale, although the price range was not revealed.
The 16-core processor is built on the RISC-V structure, a free and open hardware instruction set architecture (ISA).
Pingtouge said its processor achieves 7.1 Coremark/MHz at a frequency of 2.5GHz on a 12nm process node, which is 40% more powerful than any RISC-V processor produced to date.
The Xuantie 910 performance is enabled by the use of a 12-stage out-of-order operation pipeline core, enabling up to eight instructions to be loaded in each cycle, including a load as well as a store instruction, These can form clusters of four, and up to four clusters are possible per chip as it currently stands, which enables a 16-core chip. Secondly, the company said it has added 50 extended instructions to enhance various arithmetic operations, memory access, and multicore capabilities.
The open-source nature of RISC-V has generated interest in China’s chip community offers a potential alternative to the dominant architecture of Britain’s Arm Holdings Inc. Arm, a unit of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, charges licensing fees for its use.
China currently hosts two industry organizations dedicated to researching RISC-V, which complement the RISC-V Foundation based in California.
Pintouge aims to become an affordable chip infrastructure provider for the artificial intelligence and Internet of Things sectors, according to Qi Xiaoning, vice president of Alibaba Group.
The e-commerce giant has steadily expanded from online shopping and into more technology-intensive areas. It is now China’s biggest provider of cloud computing services, and also has a fledgling smart hardware business with products including voice assistant Tmall Genie.