Feeds

China's chip gaining GHz quickly - report

Godson-2 now visible in Intel's rear view mirror

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

Microprocessor Report has released the longest analysis yet of China's home grown microprocessor, Godson-2.

Published information on the project has been sparse, but is eagerly awaited. The economic powerhouse has long been dependent on expensive foreign microprocessors, which make up one of the few remaining areas the US' boasts an unarguable technology lead over Asian rivals.

The 6000-word analysis is only available to subscribers, but Tom Halfhill kindly shared some details with us today. And the most impressive thing since we last looked, a couple of years ago, is the rapid and increasing progress the government-backed project has made.

Godson-2 currently clocks in at around 400MHz to 500MHz on a 180nm process. Samples based on 130nm technology should appear this year. That's a generation or two behind Intel and AMD, but Halfhill says the progress China is making is remarkable.

The chip is targeted at thin clients, embedded controllers for industrial applications or cars. But the next generation, at 800MHz to 1GHz, is a plausible candidate for a modern budget desktop PC, and the Government plans to put it into cheap Linux computers for schools.

At this point a very low-priced PC becomes feasible, comfortably under $150.

Patents and patches

Godson-2 is a MIPS derivative, but according to what sources told Halfhill, skirts around the IP issues.

"MIPS has certain patented instructions, and the patents are in the US, Europe but not apparently in China. However, they told me they do not use the patented instructions."

The engineers have apparently also implemented their own SIMD instructions for floating point work.

Most impressively, Tom learned that the Chinese engineers have found a way of patching MIPS executables to run on the fly, quite an achievement. Reliability is still an issue, but three operating systems are up and running on Godson-2: Windows CE, Linux and VxWorks. These guys are smart.

Although improvements on the process technology are "rapid", and use state of the art wafers, the Chinese government also has the option of outsourcing manufacturing of the microprocessor, says Halfhill, to speed things along even more.

"There would be two ironies here," he notes. "One is the irony of China outsourcing manufacturing. The other irony is if it chooses TSMC as a fab, and outsources to Taiwan.

"But business is business."

Sources told Halfhill that there are no plans to export Godson-2, but for how long, we wondered.

"The design is virtually state of the art, so there are no reasons it can't compete everywhere in the world."

The Chinese People's Daily, which like the computer giant Lenovo is also state owned, hailed the first home-CPU powered server as significant event for the country. The chip had "strengthened greatly the national defence, national security and actual strength in many sectors of crucial importance", the paper wrote two years ago.

Not an understatement. ®

Related link

Microprocessor Report - China's Emerging Microprocessors [subscribers only]

Related stories

China's 64-bit chip gains ground
‘Six million crystal tubes’ in China's first CPU
China sends DVD royalties South
Trade Wars II: China shuns Qualcomm - no CDMA tax!
Occidents will happen: China rips up the 3G rulebook

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast
USB-usiness in the front, micro-USB party in the back
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Inside the Hekaton: SQL Server 2014's database engine deconstructed
Nadella's database sqares the circle of cheap memory vs speed
BOFH: Oh DO tell us what you think. *CLICK*
$%%&amp Oh dear, we've been cut *CLICK* Well hello *CLICK* You're breaking up...
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
AMD's 'Seattle' 64-bit ARM server chips now sampling, set to launch in late 2014
But they won't appear in SeaMicro Fabric Compute Systems anytime soon
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.