News [Toms] AMD Not Conducting Further Technology Transfers of x86 IP to China JV

Hitman928

Golden Member
Apr 15, 2012
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#1

dark zero

Platinum Member
Jun 2, 2015
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#3
Since the Chinese has the base (Ryzen), they can start to make a self develop in order to make better chips.... They are not idiots, so AMD too. Maybe AMD wants to monitor how the Chinese evolves their chips only to find if they can make a faster chip without US tech...
 

ThatBuzzkiller

Senior member
Nov 14, 2014
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#4
Meh, it was only a temporary solution until Zhaoxin could design their own high performance x86 cores. It's in the CCPs ultimate plan to cut off China's dependence on US technology ...
 

Topweasel

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2000
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#5
It's all about right. AMD got a huge lump sum which helps them out and some money they will continue to get as a part owner. But I don't think they want to people to see this as a source for cheap Ryzen alternatives and they can always absorb any new ideas that the new company develops into future products. Where this Chinese semi company skips over decades of CPU development and instantly leapfrogs companies like VIA.
 
Feb 23, 2017
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#6
Keeping all the juicy Zen 2 IP to themselves. Makes perfect sense.
 

moinmoin

Senior member
Jun 1, 2017
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#8
To be expected after all the events in the last couple weeks.

What I wonder (and the article doesn't seem to touch upon) is how that all impact ongoing royalties. The JV is obviously continuing, but should the continuing US-China trade war shut down the link between AMD and the Chinese JV the flow of royalties back to AMD would be severed as well.
 

Jimzz

Diamond Member
Oct 23, 2012
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#9
Kinda a double edge sword. AMD can watch to see if they find something that works they can copy for future zen. But they can also steal tech from TSMC/AMD to build up their ChinaZen2 as well. Curious to see how it differs from AMDs Zen2 and future builds when they both started from the original design. Should be interesting.

The other positive thing is more companies will design software more efficiently for Zen designs as it should work on amd and chinas zen chip. You know this is the best chip china has so they will ramp it up and use it a lot.
 

Abwx

Diamond Member
Apr 2, 2011
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#10
From the start it wasnt a good idea unless this is a composite chip using several dies and AMD providing the CPU part, that s why i dont think that the chinese org got access to Zen electrical schematic or physical implementation on a process, that would have been a terrible mistake...
 

jpiniero

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2010
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#11
From the start it wasnt a good idea unless this is a composite chip using several dies and AMD providing the CPU part, that s why i dont think that the chinese org got access to Zen electrical schematic or physical implementation on a process, that would have been a terrible mistake...
My understanding is that China got everything. AMD did really badly need the money at the time though.
 

Hitman928

Golden Member
Apr 15, 2012
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#12
As far as I know they transferred rtl only.

Edit: Nevermind they updated the Toms article with comments from AMD saying they didn't transfer RTL. I don't know what was transferred then, GDS?
 
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Abwx

Diamond Member
Apr 2, 2011
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#13
My understanding is that China got everything. AMD did really badly need the money at the time though.
Such a design cost way more than what Thatic paid, how much could AMD sell the design if the IP was freely sellable..?..
My understanding is that Thatic was provided the Zen core I/O dynamic characteristics and protocol to wich they could add their own IP but the Zen core will appear to them as a black box as far as schematic goes.

The physical connection of both IPs is made either by AMD or Thatic but that doesnt matter since it s only the electrical connections, albeit routed by Synopsys sofwtare FI for use by the foundry.

Each IP is provided to the foundry by means of crypted datas, only the foundry has access to the whole implementation while AMD s and Thatic respectives IPs are kept unknown from the respective counterpart.
 

jpiniero

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2010
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#14
Such a design cost way more than what Thatic paid, how much could AMD sell the design if the IP was freely sellable..?..
AMD really, really badly, needed the money. Plus I imagine you won't see the chips outside of the PRC, and maybe the PRC Government itself, which for China suits the need. It's not something that will cause problems for AMD's business outside of China.
 

Abwx

Diamond Member
Apr 2, 2011
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#15
Hitman gave a precision above, if the RTL wasnt transfered then they cant have the electrical schematic, as said all they got was a characterised black box and what they paid for was the right to use Zen cores in their SoC design.
 

Hitman928

Golden Member
Apr 15, 2012
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#16
Hitman gave a precision above, if the RTL wasnt transfered then they cant have the electrical schematic, as said all they got was a characterised black box and what they paid for was the right to use Zen cores in their SoC design.
That makes a lot more sense. The original license explanation I read was that the actual IP was transferred and Thatic was free to modify it to their needs. I was always shocked by that but didn't have any other explanations.

Them receiving a black box with IO timing and levels where they are free to add additional blocks around it makes a heck of a lot more sense for AMD. It still has to be fabbed at GF then, right? Even if China gets their foundry tech up to par at 14 nm, they won't be able to switch foundries without any of the actual design knowledge.

Just having this level of performance in a CPU is a boon for China since they can at least add their proprietary encryption / security blocks around it. It won't be as secure as an actual domestic design could be but should perform significantly better for at least a few years before their own designs can catch up to Zen1 levels.
 

Abwx

Diamond Member
Apr 2, 2011
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#17
That makes a lot more sense. The original license explanation I read was that the actual IP was transferred and Thatic was free to modify it to their needs. I was always shocked by that but didn't have any other explanations.
Possibly that it means that they are free to use it in any future SoC of their as long as they keep paying the fees.


Them receiving a black box with IO timing and levels where they are free to add additional blocks around it makes a heck of a lot more sense for AMD. It still has to be fabbed at GF then, right? Even if China gets their foundry tech up to par at 14 nm, they won't be able to switch foundries without any of the actual design knowledge.

Just having this level of performance in a CPU is a boon for China since they can at least add their proprietary encryption / security blocks around it. It won't be as secure as an actual domestic design could be but should perform significantly better for at least a few years before their own designs can catch up to Zen1 levels.
I/O characteristics and a few specialized logical protocols like acess to microcode to program the AES engine for their needs since they have their own encryption standard, and as you point it they have a modern design that can be produced for years and methink that they also have the right to shrink it to 7m and further, nevermind that Zen 2 is better, this 7nm Zen 1 wouldnt be far behind and way enough for the usages, government and administrations needs as well as any state attached corporate.
 

Thala

Senior member
Nov 12, 2014
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#18
Possibly that it means that they are free to use it in any future SoC of their as long as they keep paying the fees.

I/O characteristics and a few specialized logical protocols like acess to microcode to program the AES engine for their needs since they have their own encryption standard, and as you point it they have a modern design that can be produced for years and methink that they also have the right to shrink it to 7m and further, nevermind that Zen 2 is better, this 7nm Zen 1 wouldnt be far behind and way enough for the usages, government and administrations needs as well as any state attached corporate.
If it is no soft IP (aka RTL) they cannot possibly shrink it.
 

Abwx

Diamond Member
Apr 2, 2011
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#19
If it is no soft IP (aka RTL) they cannot possibly shrink it.
Certainly but it depend of the exact contract, they could well be provided an updated layout, that would still using the same IP, i dont think that the exact process is part of the sold IP.

Anyway this JV could be a good decision from AMD after all, reading at Digitimes they will at least get some fees if what is said in the article below has some truth :

"The US sanctions against Huawei has also undermined the server revenues of Intel and Nvidia as both have been major suppliers of the China-based company. China reportedly plans to boycott products from US-based chip suppliers including Intel. China has contributed around a quarter of Intel datacenter business group's revenues. "

https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20190604PD206.html
 

Hitman928

Golden Member
Apr 15, 2012
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#20
Don't they get ongoing royalties? Meaning if China stops buying intel chips and switches to the Thatic Zen chips, AMD gets a cut from every chip sold. Not as good as selling the chips directly, but at least they get a % while China won't buy any intel chips.
 

Abwx

Diamond Member
Apr 2, 2011
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#21
For large systems they ll still rely on AMD/Intel but for small servers and workstations they can rely on this chip, that s quite a big market since it encompass all industries that get commands from the chinese government, be it the army or the agricultural ministry, surely not that much money for AMD but better than nothing.
 

ThatBuzzkiller

Senior member
Nov 14, 2014
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#22
Neither AMD nor Intel can be trusted to supply the Chinese market, only Zhaoxin can truly fulfill that role since they are a Chinese state backed firm. Skepticism against China is rising with growing bipartisan support among the major American political parties so even if the likes of politicians such as Joe Biden were elected for the executive branch, the representatives of the legislative branch still can't be trusted that they'll readily resume America's previous business relationship with China ...

For the above alone, there is every reason to believe that the US will eventually cut off AMD's business in China. If America isn't going let Intel profiteer from business with China then they'll likely prevent AMD from profiteering in China as well because the Americans obviously don't want to share high-end technology with the Chinese. It would not surprise me if China banned both AMD and Intel in the process to subsidize the development of Zhaoxin's x86 cores which was inherited from a Taiwanese firm known as VIA ... (In the not too distant future China will also drop the Windows platform in favour of a custom OS based on Linux because they also want to reduce the liability of another American firm)
 

dark zero

Platinum Member
Jun 2, 2015
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#24
To be expected after all the events in the last couple weeks.

What I wonder (and the article doesn't seem to touch upon) is how that all impact ongoing royalties. The JV is obviously continuing, but should the continuing US-China trade war shut down the link between AMD and the Chinese JV the flow of royalties back to AMD would be severed as well.
Indeed, that is why AMD decided to ally with Samsung. In order to avoid that budget cut.
 


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