China could release its first dedicated gaming GPU in 2025, but will it be competitive?

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China faces serious tech sanctions from the United States, which is home to all the major microprocessor makers. Under the weight of these sanctions, the pressure to develop local hardware is greater than ever, but the design of the GPU is a significant hurdle to overcome. There are already basic and productivity-focused GPUs such as Zhaoxin and Innosilicon, but MetaX Tech is also looking to supplant foreign GPUs for gaming.

MetaX Tech already has two products on the way: a 7nm parallel processor for AI inference registered earlier this year, and a second chip for more general use in scientific computing is in the final stages of R&D with plans to begin production in 2024. Neither of these parts will be useful for gaming, but the company says it intends to hit competitive performance targets against foreign parts.
metax product ranges
Screenshot of MetaX website. The MXG product page isn’t up yet, though.

In an interview with NetEase, MetaX Tech co-founder and CEO Dr. Yang Jian said the company’s third product will be a fully-graphics piece of silicon with gaming chops. That makes sense, looking at the company’s website. All three products align perfectly with the three product lines listed on MetaX Tech’s site: MXN for neural computing, MXC for high-performance computing, and finally MXG for graphics.

Innosilicon has already demonstrated the ability of its “Fantasy” series GPUs to run OpenGL and DirectX applications, but there is a significant difference in what MetaX tries to do compared to what Innosilicon did. Where Innosilicon licensed its graphics intellectual property from Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR family, MetaX Tech builds from the ground up.
macamaca
MACAMACA is the enterprise heterogeneous computing stack.

Chinese news blog UDN reports that the MetaX team is made up mostly of engineers who worked at AMD, so the company at least has the hardware talent. However, like Biren Technology, the company has yet to ship any products. Hardware development is a difficult and time-consuming task, but software development is arguably just as important. Without solid drivers, the theoretical performance of MetaX’s MXG family is ultimately irrelevant.

Dr. Yang Jian said MetaX expects its MXG graphics processors to be ready in 2025, after which they will be manufactured using a 7nm domestic process. It’s hard to imagine MXG being competitive with the latest and greatest of any US vendor at this time, but modern GPUs have far exceeded what’s really needed to play video games. It is possible that MXG will still be a good product when it arrives. Only time will tell, we suppose.

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