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‘Six million crystal tubes’ in China's first CPU

Stuckist hardware or homegrown surveillance chip?

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China's first CPU - the existence of which was first reported a year ago - has made its debut, according the People's Daily.

The Dragon boasts the power of a 486, according to an earlier communique issued by the Chinese Ministry of Technology, and thanks to a charming mistranslation we learn that it features "six million crystal tubes". It almost certainly doesn't - William Shockley's transistor had superseded the vacuum tube by the 1950s - but it is a landmark nevertheless.

As we illustrated here, only the CPU and the BIOS in today's personal computers contain Western-designed parts. Thanks to Linux, which the Dragon already runs, China will have no need for Western-technology to sustain its own IT economy.

China intends to have a version matching Pentium III performance next year, and to match today's CPUs by 2005.

By coincidence, the EE Times carries a report in which the US Export department is critized for granting all nine applications to license lithography equipment to China so far in 2002.

As the People's Daily puts it:

"The Shuguang Co. says, the brought-out of the 'Soaring Dragon' Sever has not only turned over a leaf in Chinese history that there was 'no chip' in China's server trade but also strengthened greatly the national defence, national security and actual strength in many sectors of crucial importance. It has made China's computer industry to follow its own and independent track of development."

In addition, as we've been discussing over the summer, a Chinese or Indian PC could provide Net Stuckists - DRM-refuseniks - with the continuation of an open hardware platform. Neither Microsoft nor Intel appears to regard that as a priority, right now.

On the other hand, it might not.

Openflows has been following the development of surveillance technology in China with the connivance of Western technology companies. And the Chinese government could find as much use for TCPA architectures - which provide a corporation or government with details of your every movement on the Internet - when you consider their form.

Bootnote: Not the art movement.

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