China to unveil homebrewed chip in 2013

The showcase of its Godson-3B1500 processor demonstrates China's chipmaking ability and helps it wean off its dependency on foreign vendors.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

China will unveil its locally-developed 8-core Godson processor in 2013, which will be used to power PCs and servers, as it looks to wean itself off foreign-made processors.

A ComputerWorld report Tuesday said manufacturer Loongson Technology, which is partly funded by the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), will share details about the Godson-3B1500 processor at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) next February. 

The Godson-3B1500 has a clock speed of 1.35 gigahertz (GHz), and provides 172.8 gigaflops of performance while drawing 40 watts of power, it noted.

Godson cores also differ in design from both ARM and Intel and AMD's x86 architecture. It is based on a MIPS64 CPU instruction set from chip designer MIPS, and does not support Windows operating system (OS) but runs variants of the Linux OS instead, the report added.

The Godson processor has been several years in the making. Research for the chip started in 2001 and the 32-bit Godson-1 was the first CPU developed as part of the country's efforts to produce its own chips. Since 2008, chips based on 64-bit Godson CPU have been in use in low-power laptops such as the Lemote netbook and ShenWei supercomputer.

The impetus was further accelerated when China's three supercomputer organizations--CAS' Institute of Computing Technology, the Jiangnan Institute of Computing Technology, and the National University of Defense Technology--were directed to use locally-developed CPUs by end-2011, the report noted.

Hu Weiwu, deputy of the National People's Congress and chief architect of the Loongson CPUs, said: "Our information industry is using foreign technology. However, just like a country's industry cannot always depend on foreign steel and oil, China's information industry needs its own CPU."

One Intel executive had earlier argued that China would be better served by working with chipmakers to meet its needs. Rajeeb Hazra, general manager of Intel's technical computing group, said while the efforts to develop chips may spur China's own academic community, it might not be the smartest things to do if it wants to be a world technology leader.

"Our goal is to demonstrate that for countries that may be contemplating that path, 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," Hazra said.




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