China develops own CPU to ‘bring computers to the people’

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Researchers in China have developed a Chinese-only CPU known as the Godson.  The CPU technology is an attempt by China to take control of their technology needs and avoid relying on outside countries.  Given that federal laws prohibit the sale of cutting-edge processing tech to China, most American CPUs sold in the country are over a generation old. 

Credit: Institute of Computing Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences

The Godson chips, known commercially as Loongson, or “dragon chip” processors, were developed in 2001 and on the market a year later.  In 2003, 2004 and 2006 new versions were released with each iteration supposedly tripling the performance of the version sold before.  China expects to launch a quad-core version later next year.  Given the aggressive power technologies instituted in the processor design, it’s estimated that the four-core Godson-3 chip will consume around 10 Watts of power, with the planned eight-core design using around twice that. The four- and eight-core chips are using a 65nm manufacturing process.

While internal details on the chip technology have never been disclosed, the chips do not run using a traditional x86 instruction set.  Versions of Linux have been redesigned to run on the chips, since it’s free to use and modify.  Microsoft’s Windows currently doesn’t run on the chips, but researchers are adding extra instruction sets to the Godson-3 version of the chip so that it will emulate an x86 processor, and allow Windows et al to be run.  Since it’s only emulation no royalties or licensing fees need to be paid to Intel.  Intel says that the processors run around twenty percent slower than current Intel lines.  When it comes down to it, though, 80% of a decently fast quad core chip is still more than enough to get your work done.

 

Further reading:

via MIT’s TechnologyReview

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