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Godson-2 Microprocessor Is China’s Great Leap Forward, Says In-Stat’s Microprocessor Report

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July 24, 2005

Godson-2 Microprocessor Is China’s Great Leap Forward, Says In-Stat’s Microprocessor Repor...

Godson-2 Microprocessor Is China’s Great Leap Forward, Says In-Stat’s Microprocessor Report

July 25, 2005 A 64-bit microprocessor went into production last quarter that demonstrates China is capable of designing world-class microprocessors, according to a new article published by In-Stat’s Microprocessor Report. The Chinese processor, named Godson-2 (also known as Dragon), is the second chip in the Godson family. The Godson architecture is an unauthorized variation of the popular MIPS architecture from MIPS Technologies. For now, at least, the Chinese are producing Godson processors solely for their own domestic market. However, international exports are possible in the future, especially if the Chinese embed their processors in consumer-electronics products and other finished goods shipped to world markets. China's ambition to make its own microprocessors will affect microprocessor vendors all over the world.

Based on detailed analysis, In-Stat’s Microprocessor Report has reached several conclusions, including the following:

- China already is capable of designing world-class microprocessors. The only restraint on their performance is that Chinese chip-fabrication technology lags about two generations behind the rest of the industry. However, China is catching up fast, and the Chinese could gain access to state-of-the-art fabrication technology by outsourcing some manufacturing to independent foundries outside China.

- The Godson architecture is a close imitation of the MIPS architecture and is about 95% MIPS compatible. The Godson-2 is similar to the MIPS R10000, introduced in 1995. These similarities could raise some controversial intellectual-property issues, because MIPS Technologies has no connection with Godson and hasn't licensed any technology to the Godson designers.

- For now, at least, the Chinese are producing Godson processors solely for their own domestic market. However, international exports are possible in the future, especially if the Chinese embed their processors in consumer-electronics products and other finished goods shipped to world markets. China's ambition to make its own microprocessors will affect microprocessor vendors all over the world.

In-Stat’s conclusions are based on independent analysis and an exclusive interview with Weiwu Hu, Godson's chief architect. Weiwu is a professor at the Institute for Computing Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. A sidebar to the main article has excerpts from this fascinating interview.

"China's Emerging Microprocessors" is available now to MPR subscribers and can also be purchased on the In-Stat website by nonsubscribers for US$99. The article was written by Tom R. Halfhill, an In-Stat senior analyst and senior editor for Microprocessor Report.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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