This Chinese company made a graphics card that supports Vulkan and DirectX
Why is this important: In recent years, Chinese companies have been busy developing x86 processors, DRAMs, and NAND memories that may soon replace the need for foreign solutions. In the meantime, no one has noticed that a company called Innosilicon has developed China’s first graphics card capable of gaming.
While anyone looking to buy a GPU has their eyes set on what AMD, Nvidia, and Intel are doing, it’s easy to miss the quiet work of Chinese companies looking to break into the consumer and server GPU markets. In September, we learned that Jingjia Micro (also known as Jingjiawei) was testing two graphics cards – a low-end model that would be as powerful as a GeForce GTX 1050 or Radeon RX 560, and a high-end model that could compete with something like a GeForce GTX 1080 or an RX Vega 64.
Jingjiawei isn’t the only Chinese company trying to develop a GPU. Innosilicon has taken a similar path by partnering with a company called Xiandong, which already has some experience in manufacturing GPUs for servers. The two companies have made a graphics card they call Fenghua 1 that can be used as a compute acceleration card for the data center or as a desktop graphics card.
Interestingly, the Fenghua 1 is based on PowerVR IP from Imagination Technologies. It also supports APIs like OpenGL, Vulkan, OpenGL ES, OpenCL, and DirectX which is a first for any Chinese GPU. And since it is also aimed at the mainstream market, it has an HDMI 2.1 port, a DisplayPort 1.4 and even a DVI port.
Not much is known about the hardware itself, but the announcement states that the card has Micron GDDR6X video memory and the GPU is based on one of Innosilicon’s Innolink chip designs. Additionally, the card is PCIe 4.0 compatible and works under Windows, Linux, and Android environments, but the press release doesn’t tell us anything useful about its performance. The only number we get is FP32 performance, which is rated at 6 teraflops. For reference, AMD’s RX 6600 is capable of 7.3 teraflops and Nvidia’s GTX 1660 SUPER can achieve a hair of over 5 teraflops.
Another clue to the potential of the new Fenghua 1 graphics card comes from Imagination Technologies’ Marketing Director, David Harold. In October 2020, he said that the 11th generation PowerVR architecture had 70% better performance per watt compared to existing desktop GPUs.
If true, this claim can speak to the Fenghua 1’s power efficiency, but we’ll have to wait and see how it performs in real-world tasks compared to existing solutions from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel.
The new graphics card is expected to be available to consumers during the period 2022-2023.