back to article Godson: China shuns US silicon with faux x86 superchip

If the Chinese government is scaring the world with its hybrid CPU-GPU clusters, what do you think the reaction will be when Chinese supercomputers shun American-made x64 processors and GPU co-processors and start using their own energy-efficient, MIPS-derived, x86-emulating Godson line of 64-bit processors? Apoplexy? Disbelief …

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Wrong conclusion

We have already been here.

UMC U5. It used a RISC derived architecture to emulate x86 and could run circles around its equivalent - 486SX at the same frequency. I used to have a desktop running OS2 with this puppy. It rocked.

We all know what that one ended up with. In court with Intel, ITC, prohibited imports and prohibited sales.

This one will end up no different.

The moment you decide to emulate the x86 instruction set without being a licensee of any of the prior x86 designs at a speed that may threaten Intel sales, rest assured that Intel will not hesitate to hit the "launch lawyers" button.

It shows however that you do not need to go far to out-innovate Intel. However out-innovating it will not help as it will simply out-marketeer you and out-OEM-negotiate you.

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Re: Wrong conclusion 2

Out-running the 486SX wasn't hard, even when it was current. However, when Intel and AMD went out-of-order, RISC lost all its advantages and hasn't been price competitive since. Arguably it had lost most of its advantages by then anyway, as die sizes had grown and feature sizes had shrunk to the extent that you could make x86 fly by brute force, but OoO was definitely the final straw.

We already have ARM and Power (and others). There are already x86 emulators for these. At the slow end of the market, you can already buy an x86 processor for a tenner. I see nothing in these announcements to worry Intel or AMD. The real threat remains the possibility that some GPU-like or larrabee-like offering from an upstart competitor actually gets some traction amongst hobbyists. Both Intel and AMD are actively trying to *be* that upstart competitor, so I think they realise this.

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Go

I'd like to see Intel sue China and get anywhere...

That'll be entertaining to watch...

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Grenade

@ AC: Wrong conclusion

Hmmm I dunno AC.

Even if the chip were limited to non-export home use that is a lot of kit.

It also allows the fab plant, manu processing and kit assembly to evolve in a non-export way and perhaps (or certainly?) after sufficient time the evolved stuff may be beyond limitation?

It looks to be an interesting show all the same hence icon

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Boffin

But...

The article states that they did license the HyperTransport license from AMD. Let's not forget that x86-64 instructions belongs to AMD. Intel only licensed it from AMD to implement it in their chips. So it's not too hard to believe that they licensed the instructions from AMD as well.

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Re: Wrong cunclusion is wrong

They do NOT in fact run x86 instructions on the chip. They added some new instructions to the MIPS instruction set to make it more efficient for qemu to emulate x86 in software. x86 is very different than MIPS, and uses lots of offset addressing, which MIPS doesn't have. So they added new instructions to support that type of addressing efficiently, which makes qemu able to be much faster and efficient at doing software x86 emulation. Without qemu though, it is just a MIPS chip with some new non standard MIPS instructions. They are not x86 instructions in themselves.

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Go

they could licence from AMD their Intel licensed licence ^&%^$

if its so easy then its odd that AMD didnt do this route too, but given AMD are now in a pickle from all sides and especially no real embedded ARM market plans to speak of etc then these clever Chinese can always slap some cash down on the table of the AMD executive.

after all AMD like free money, be it big checks from Intel after legal rulings, or their friends in china etc that actually produce their chips as they are virtually fabless now.

so a new big wad ear marked for a 2012 payout , and special considerations direct from the Chinese Govt ( they dont care about copyright etc anyway) to cover this slight problem, and rights to re badge and/or re-sell this Godson-3B and its derivatives under AMD badge doesn't seem a problem really.

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How much is stolen?

Curious how much of this technology is stolen from Intel/AMD/IBM/ARM/etc etc.

Last time I checked Chinese people weren't 100 times smarter than rest of the world combined.....how indeed do they explain their fast pace of growth?

Just like with the Russians though, now that they have stolen and caught up, they can't go any further until we have something new to steal.....

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No need to steal

16 projects with $5bn - $10bn budgets sounds like it would do the trick.

In terms of overtaking, you don't need to be X times smarter, you just need the money and for everyone to keep their lawyer's under control. Not having the USPTO planting mines and feeding trolls right left and center will also help.

Of course, US companies may spend all their time trying to stop Chinese tech being imported, but I'm not sure the Chinese would care that much, and it isn't likely to endear them to the US consumer either. Perhaps we can all return to the good old fashioned pursuit of building your business by making something better than the competition?

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@Rob Dobs: As in "Stealing Satellite Technology" ?

just wondering.

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Megaphone

Dear sir

I bet the underpants you are wearing is most likely to be made in china,

you smart ass !

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FAIL

@Rob Dobs

Why do Chinese people have to be 100 times smarter than the rest of the world combined to do something better? If Intel processors are best, does that mean that American people are 100 times smarter than the rest of the world combined?

Another question, if China only has things that they steal, where did their original inventions come from? Did they steal paper, the compass and rocket technology from aliens? And if so, where did the rest of the world get if from when they caught up; from the same aliens?

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Pint

Two sides to the equation

They may not be 100 times smarter, but we may very well be much more than 100 times lazier.

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Big Brother

It's amazing what a whip-wielding command-economy can do

at least in the short run.

When it's up against another command economy that splurges mainly on wars and pork and has everything gridlocked through "Intellectual Property" faggotry.

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Anonymous Coward

Pot - kettle..

I always find it amusing to hear/read this argument - "they must have nicked it".

It is especially funny if it comes from the US - who kickstarted their own industry with ignoring anything related to copyright and intellectual property and is now hard, no, frantically at work preventing others from doing the same.

Industrial espionage is likely to go the other way, now the US sees more and more school leavers not ready for industry - AFAIK the kids of non-US origin are still doing well..

Oh, and as for the Russians, there is a reason they are FAR more intelligent with equipment, and that too is a US own goal: if you deprive people of means, they will find a way to make do with what they have. The result is more intelligent use of resources, and usually more efficient as well. It's a bit similar to the situation we have in Japan now: as the US didn't hand out many IP addresses there, Japan was forced to go IPv6 a lot earlier than the rest of the world - they have already done what everyone else still needs to think about. So who is now ahead again?

Claims, or even dreams of superiority quickly vanish once you lift up the carpet and examine the dirt piles underneath. I'm not anti-US, but it would be nice if they stopped believing their own BS and got to work. There is an awful lot to do, especially in the "repairing credibility" department.

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Joke

underpants

I bet the underpants you are wearing is most likely to be made in china,

I suppose Chinese are due some intellectual property rights over my silk ones.

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FAIL

At Rob Dobs...

...of course those stupid Chinese...No a clever as us westerners....

Oh hold on, at my wifes graduation (at a Top Russells Uni) about 80% of the science grads getting the Masters / Phd's just so happend to have funny, foreign sort of oriental sounding names. That was several years ago....coincidence?

But of course, we know we are superior westeners, after all....

Idiot!

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Anonymous Coward

their not daft

probably still the world largest population, the Chinese are not daft, they know perfectly well they could have their Govt. at any time take the US legal copyright, IP, derivative works and any other such profit model's..... and place into law a back dated 6 thousand plus years copyright and IP directive and take the US and any other troublesome country to court for at least trillions of profits owed from derivative works for all the stuff they have the prior art right's to etc.... scary ,lets hope they dont innovate and take up that modern day US protectionist model , they probably have prior art on that invention too :D

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Boffin

intellectual property rights over my silk ones, you cant make a Silk Purse From a Sow's Ear

in this one case i guess that depends on this fact , are your shorts made from real silk or a Sow's Ear ?

http://historywired.si.edu/object.cfm?ID=535

"A Silk Purse From a Sow's Ear

1921

Taking up Swift's challenge

Massachusetts industrialist Arthur D. Little liked a challenge.

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Hobbyists...

Start making supporting hardware aimed at us (ie mobo's etc) and I'll be honest with you, I'll sorely be tempted to buy one (And I don't mean those low end somewhat crappy MIPS netbooks out there).

So China, start selling cheap bits that are easy to buy and assemble, or heck, even a halfway decent MIPS linux netbook, and I would support this (non-x86) venture.

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Go

Godson....

They are still 3-4 years behind. But if they catch up, the world would be a Chinese curse.. (interesting times and all that).

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How good a fit for a games console?

A low power advanced CPU with vector coprocessors? How good a fit would that be for games consoles?

The Playstation Portable currently uses the MIPS architecture, so Sony and games developers have experience with it.

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Linux

Linux won't need x64 emulation

Linux already compiles and runs on many processor architectures including MIPS. x64 emulation and QEMU are for closed-source binary x64 apps.

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Heart

BOGGLE!

I want one. I have no idea what I will do with it - well, I do; multiple simultaneous VMs with a physical dual-core per VM running Linux, WinXP and Win7 - with the 32bit variants ready to fire up instantly - just in case. All in one box. :-)

And bragging rights.

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Coat

All that....

to play Boggle?

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Boffin

odd looking

Is it just me or is that actually two near identical (except for the fans) boards placed back to back (mirroring each other)?.

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Coat

Godson?

" The genuine Jesus processor!!!"

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Alert

Unstoppable?

Japan "stole" the memory business from Intel and China will eventually take the processor business, one could almost assume.

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If by stole..

you mean did it better, then your right.

Mostek and Intel sat on their hands while the Japanese came along and did it better.

They were the first to come to market with the 4116 (16k x1 ram) (A revolution at the time), and the last with the 4164 (64k x1 Ram),

In between times, the Japanese profits on their versions of the 4116 were invested in new designs and improvements, while the Mostek profits from the 4116 went straight to the bottom line.

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Anonymous Coward

Intel Lawyers???

Hardly...

Godson ties into where China wants to be technologically and militarily, to be relatively self-sufficient. There's a reason why we (America) sells weapon systems to people we don't like... we can restrict repair parts or technical support (Iran with the F-15 for example) and cause them undo hassle to play catch up. The best that Intel can expect is to rattle their sabres and possibly get some concessions for penetration into the Chinese market. The biggest problem with Godson will be it's quality and government corruption. China (not Taiwan) has consistently shown itself to have problems with much of anything not done on a large scale and even that has to be mass produced enough to offset the failure rate (and that doesn't begin to tie into pollution). Besides, authoritarian governments tend to stifle advancement and the prestige associated with this will cause enough fiddling by officials, whom Intel should really be targetting.

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Interesting questions on copyright and copying

AFAIK Intel copyrighted the microcode in their processors and since the licensees used *very* similar architecture they could play the "Well the architecture's the same so some of the microcode instructions *must* be the same so that's copyright."

The MIPS architecture is externally *totally* different. It's *highly* unlikely the internal architecture bears any resemblance to that of an x86.

So if the whole *visible* instruction set is public domain they *can* argue it will be a complex re-engineering job. Essentially a white room clone.

Personally I thought 40W. What's a Pentium *chip* dumping now? 150W? 200W?

As others have noted though it would need support chips to handle the interfaces for the usual peripherals of a desktop box and at least *one* reference motherboard design. Something tells me Taiwan might be a bit reluctant to help out on this. That would also bring in the issues around what bus (and how compatible) to use.

Now the $x64 is this.

Is it compatible enough to boot Windows 7 server *without* Microsoft involvement?

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In court with Intel...

I doubt the Chinese really care about it. They're making concerted efforts to secure their critical national supply chains against foreign interference as a matter of security and economic policy in a world with diminishing resources and a growing population. They're trying to position themselves so any pesky little attempt at interference from overseas can simply be brushed off. They also have a big enough internal market not to care if they can't export the technology abroad. And in the final resort, they can simply ask America to pay back the trillion dollars they're owed.

We in the west need to pay a little more attention to our own strategic needs - energy, water and food in particular - and spend less time worrying about intellectual property you can neither eat nor burn.

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Pint

Intel could have done this

They had this tech. But it would have cannibalized their Xeons. Much better to hold the fort, don't you think, than to give progress?

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This is not for general public

It doesn't run the normal crap (eg. windows, games) very well. So it is no good for general use. However, rack this up in super computer, it will do great.

I bet whatever the OS Chinese gov is running, is not standard stuff. It will be very hard to hack.

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Anonymous Coward

how do you know, they might have compiled that windows that was let free/stolen by hackers

how do you know, they might have compiled that windows that was let free/stolen by hackers,the hardware assisted emulation might work perfectly well for that today, or they could even be running a top secret modified skunk works Godson windows port based on the Windows NT code that ran on MIPS back in the day OC, after all windows dont really care were they get their executive board's cash funds from as long as they get it.

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Pint

China is not only a plagiariser but also an innovator

Many people have mistaken beliefs about China.

Western industry has provided a good deal/too much IP to Chinese industry in order that widgets can be bashed out more cheaply and render greater profits to the Western company. So don't go blaming all the evils on China.

One thing I discovered was a Do-It-Yourself IC kit. Definitely not a knock-off.

To use it you run up some free software, start checking boxes and linking others together, much as free Printed Circuit software works, and after saving it you then test the functionality with an associated, free, emulator.

Once you have settled on the design you e-mail the file to the factory and it makes 100-1000 pieces for your test purposes. We are not talking big bucks here - 100 pieces of one design cost me $40 + shipping.

My designs were for simple but much in demand items: a headlight modulator/flasher unit for motorcycles and the other was for a horn-button repeater (one-two-three beeps).

For an extremely small additional cost they mounted the IC dies, under black blobs of 'gue', on small PC boards on which the driver transistors, in one case, and the relay in the other, could be mounted.

The horn beeper was ordered in 500 lots whilst the headlamp modulator was only ordered in 200 lots because we had some heat/cooling challenges. Both sell well through accessory shops and keep two women and two men employed constructing and distributing them respectively.

More complex designs can be achieved by daisy-chaining two modules on a PCB.

Another design I saw was traffic light 'sets' interconnected by BlueTooth. Again, using a small software program, the traffic engineer inserts an intersection diagram of roads, marks off the traffic light positions which are automatically numbered. Insert desired timer delays, etc.

A matrix or table appears on the screen in which the light sequences are programmed through checking boxes. An emulator is activated and the lights illuminated to the selected sequence and it is capable of flagging conflicts, etc. Happy with design - shoot the file off to the distributor and a kit of parts, fully identified and programmed, is assembled and shipped.

A four road intersection, with pedestrian walking man signage, typically prices out around $100 - which compares to Western systems priced in the thousands of dollars and using old interconnecting cabling techniques.

This explains how many Chinese products realise economies when compared to the West, so whilst they might copy some designs there is definitely home grown ingenuity at work, too.

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OOh, nice !

Any chance of a linky to the supplier of the kit?

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Beat me to it

Can I second that request for a link please?

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Happy

Alibaba had listings for ...

customised, small quantity IC's.

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Can I second this?

As it is still surprisingly (to me, at least) relevant to my interests.

Maybe its time to brush the dust off some of those old backup tapes

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I have never heard of this

It would be incredibly usefull for several projects I am working on. Any change of details of the co you used?

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Link pls

Dude, you gotta pass on that link. I've got a couple of projects that would benefit from that kind of stuff! :D

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Any Chance ..

That you good people at El Reg can chase this one up?,

I'd have thought that something like this which makes the design of custom ICs so easy and the supply costs so cheap would make for both an interesting hardware & software story.

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umm.

I was going to say that Intel & AMD stand no chance competing with a government. But then I remembered that the British government were behind Inmos.

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WTF?

the British government were behind, err no they weren't

no they weren't , infact it still surprises me that ARM are so massive and pervasive today as they are,

when UK PLC did all they could (and still do to this day) to try and take the credit for Inmos, Acorn RISC Machine, and Clive's Sinclair British personal computer industry real innovations , when in fact they did noting but put up road blocks and increased tax's on that equipment and local production etc...

rather than help and proliferate the real UK innovators, they backed the second rate scabby outsource sugar all the way though to today and even tried to have him as their Tech advisor in the prior Govt. OC, hell even the UK MAG train inventor had to sell to the Chinese that became the bullet train , as he could not get real world class backing and finances or even local manufacturing and tech support and related ecosystems from UK PLC and their banking innovators.

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Now what about Chinese ...

... aircraft and fission power ?

What are the Western economies to do then ? An easy answer is design better aircraft and power sources. I don't believe that will be possible because the Chinese are competing intellectually. In 2030 expect a crisis as state management smashes the free economy.

It does not look good. Should the west invent a new sort of capitalism, or a new sort of society ? Lets talk about it for thirty years.

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Anonymous Coward

in about 30 years...

Europe will be overun by moslims. The US will be overun by south americans (spanish/portugese speaking immigrants). And technological advancements will be at a standstill.

And a few brainless TV shows will keep the few remaining westerners occupied. So I guess there's nothing to worry about :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, but

China needs to export goods and if countries ban imports from China, what will they do then? Still think state management can smash free economy? Look at Iran, trade sanctions. Cuba, the US has trade sanctions against it.

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WTF?

Nice argument....

...the Chinese have a population of 1 billion, so not a bad internal market

What if China decided to stop exporting the US & Europe?

We would be in bigger shit than them. Think of what you will require to get up and running the next day. Do you think the west could compensate for the loss of Foxconn et al before their stocks dried up. Bye bye Apple..

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Dead Vulture

"based on the MIPS architecture created by Silicon Graphics"

The author may be talking about working from the architectural enhancements of MIPS after Silicon Graphics acquired MIPS Inc., but the MIPS architecture itself was created by a group at Stanford.

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