Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 9th Sep 2008 08:52 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems When China launched its first microprocessor, the Godson 1 in 2002, it wasn't much of a competitor to what Intel and AMD had to offer. The 64bit Godson 2, released in 2005, still didn't worry the Western chip makers, but the chip did start to pop up here and there outside of China. Expect to see a lot more of them in the coming years, as the Godson 3 promises to be a chip that can compete head on with the big ones: quad-core, eight core version in the pipeline, and 200 extra instructions aiding in x86 compatibility.
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psychicist
Member since:
2007-01-27

That's exactly what it's all about. I've been working with the main vendor of Loongson based computer systems ever since I heard about the release of the first systems one and a half years ago.

Suffice it to say that many companies and individuals (including me) both inside and outside of China have been working very hard to get all software ported over to the Loongson processor.

That's because it's finally a credible alternative to the complete dominance of the computer landscape by Intel and Microsoft that would otherwise be the case, not only for China but the world at large.

In a way it's about breaking Intel's monopoly on microprocessors the same way GNU/Linux has broken MS Windows' dominance in operating systems. GNU/Linux runs on many architectures, it's just closed source that doesn't because of its inherent limitations.

That's not a reason or excuse to keep an otherwise very good operating system from being used on desktops and notebooks based on non-x86 platforms. You simply can't take closed source software into account during the development of a free operating system, only make it work as well as is realistically possible.

Getting x86 software for Windows and Linux to work on these processors is nothing but an afterthought. That may be hard to believe for some people but it's what's necessary to make a clean break from the past and take matters into your own hands.

I hope a European alternative will be established too, possibly based on the ARM Cortex A9 architecture. If people really believe in free market principles the additional competition should only be encouraged in a market that's been dominated by a few proprietary companies for far too long.

Reply Parent Score: 2

agrouf Member since:
2006-11-17

The loongson is produced by STMicroelectronics, a European company, in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Science.
All this talk about the free market and americans feeling threaten by the free market makes me laugh though. Your real problem is not the chinese or that they build or may build cheaper and better processors. No, the real problem is your twisted view of the world as a scene of war where competition is always better than collaboration and the more you compete the better, no matter how much you destroy, except when you loose. The problem is in your mind, really.

Edited 2008-09-10 05:37 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

psychicist Member since:
2007-01-27

I haven't said that American companies should stop to exist and I wouldn't want to since I'm happily using Intel and AMD processors here, but seriously, what's wrong with another big party to give the customer an additional choice for a microprocessor?

It doesn't even matter to me that it's a Chinese or an American processor, it's just an alternative to the obvious assortment of x86 processors that are on the market.

You are putting words into my fingers that I haven't even uttered. If you knew more about the situation you would know that there is a greater landscape of semiconductor companies that have a right to sell product than your precious Intel or AMD, the latter of which which isn't even second or third on the list of largest semiconductor companies.

It's too bad for them Intel doesn't license the x86 architecture so in order to have a competitive product on the market, they have to resort to licensing another one. Other architectures such MIPS, ARM, PPC and SPARC are being licensed, so what other choice does a starting (fabless) semiconductor company have than to license one of these?

For that matter it is Intel that is dominating the market in an unhealthy way, otherwise you would have a choice of an x86, SPARC, MIPS, PPC, ARM or another implementation for your general computing needs.

I run all of these, but don't make the mistake that I'm waiting for American companies to die or to be destroyed, that's laughable since four of these were invented in America. It's about a return to the healthy situation we had 10 years ago when you had a choice of systems from various vendors before Wintel destroyed that landscape.

I also wish for several of the companies that design the processors to collaborate, as they're already doing to a large extent. After that there is a choice of having completed designs manufactured at several manufacturing plants such as those from IBM, TSMC and UMC. Can you tell me what's wrong with that (it's today's reality anyway)?

Edited 2008-09-10 12:23 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

apoclypse Member since:
2007-02-17

As an American I totally agree. We have been trained in arrogance as a nation that we must be the best or destroy every other competition, that we must be the leader and not the follower. Unfortunately for us the world had changed drastically, some of it due to things put in motion by our own government and now you have other nations who can do it cheaper and better all working together and here we want to be king of the hill or take our ball home. The kicker is that taking the ball home in this instance can gravely affect our already ailing economy if we don;t get our asses in gear.

Reply Parent Score: 2

bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

Okay so I've got high performance multithreaded software I'd like to sell in the chinese market. There ARE buyers available. Is there any way to get information or even sample hardware (more than one core) to work on? The only immediate problem *could* be that we've coded some IO assuming little endian, but that's very easy to isolate and fix.

Reply Parent Score: 2

psychicist Member since:
2007-01-27

The problem is that Loongson 3 hasn't even taped out, so unless you get hold of a multiprocessor system based on Loongson 2E/2F, which apart from the KD50 (prototype of a supercomputer) I haven't heard of yet, there is nothing to do but wait until the hardware is being sold.

Loongson is a little-endian MIPS III compatible processor so I don't think you'd have to change that much. But it would of course be good to make the changes required to make your code run on big-endian architectures anyway.

Reply Parent Score: 2