Intel: Home-grown chip strategy could make China miss out

Summary:Intel has said China's attempts to develop its own processor technologies could mean it cuts itself off from gaining access to the best technology around.Intel's Rajeeb Hazra has questioned China's determination to develop its own processor technologies.

Intel has said China's attempts to develop its own processor technologies could mean it cuts itself off from gaining access to the best technology around.

Rajeeb Hazra

Intel's Rajeeb Hazra has questioned China's determination to develop its own processor technologies. Image credit: Jack Clark

Over the past few years China has been working on developing non-x86 processors. In October 2011 the New York Times reported that the country had used 8,700 "ShenWei" processors to create the Sunway Bluelight MPP, a supercomputer capable of over a petaflop of peak computing performance, putting it among the top 20 in the world at that point.

Additionally, the country's most powerful supercomputer (and one-time world champion) the Tianhe-1A, got a portion of its computing muscle from 2,048 Chinese-developed National University of Defence Technology (NUDT) FT1000 heterogeneous processors.

Rajeeb Hazra, general manager of Intel's technical computing group, argued that though it "could happen" that Intel could get shut out of the Chinese market in a few years when some of the country's self-developed chips reach maturity, it would not be likely.

"Any nation that could take a protective stance... is in danger of not harnessing the world's talent and the best thinking," Hazra said. "Could it happen? It could happen."

However, Hazra implied that though China's chips serve a valuable role in developing and spurring its own academic community, they may not be the smartest things to use if it wants to be a world leader in technology.

"Our goal is to demonstrate that for countries that may be contemplating that path, that it's in their best interest, the best economic interest, to actually work with us and help us understand what they need rather than having to do something that is purely driven by a nationalistic boundary as opposed to more pure technology goals," he said.

China is an extremely important market for Intel, as the chipmaker, like other multinational companies, has looked to the country's impressive economic growth and sought to break into the market to help its institutions and companies refresh their IT infrastructure.

And the country has big ambitions: it aims to build a 100 petaflop supercomputer — over six times faster than the current world leader — by 2016, according to Liu Guangming, director of China's National Supercomputer Center in Tianjin, who spoke to The Register.

As China’s technology ambitions have risen, Intel has sought to cosy up to the dragon. In September the company moved one of its biannual Intel Developer Forum (IDF) events from their typical San Francisco home to Beijing, in an acknowledgement of the importance of the market. This year Intel chose China as the country to launch the first phone in an expected volley as the company seeks to gain ground against ARM-based phones. For Intel, China is a market it cannot ignore.

Topics: Storage

About

Jack Clark has spent the past three years writing about the technical and economic principles that are driving the shift to cloud computing. He's visited data centers on two continents, quizzed senior engineers from Google, Intel and Facebook on the technologies they work on and read more technical papers than you care to name on topics f... Full Bio

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