Tom Simonite

A View from Tom Simonite

The China Chip Advances—and May Compete with Intel Soon

The country’s first homegrown microprocessor could be used in Internet servers and routers.

  • November 26, 2012

The processors at the heart of computers and mobile devices today come in two basic flavors: Intel- and ARM-compatible. But since 2002 the Chinese Academy of Sciences has been working in a public-private partnership, BLX IC Design Corporation, to establish a third type of processor—designed and made in China. Early next year, the latest fruit of that project will be unveiled, reports ComputerWorld—a new chip in a family of designs known as Loongson that is intended to drive PCs, servers, and supercomputers.

The latest chip, the Godson-3B1500, is the same size as its predecessor, launched in 2011, but is said to have twice as many transistors and to be 35 percent more power efficient. Earlier members of the Godson chip family were used as the basis of the chips for China’s first fully domestically built supercomputer.

Despite that progress, Loongson chips are still far behind Intel’s technologically. The chip to be launched next year is made using a process that creates features as small as 32 nanometers, but Intel already sells processors with features as small as 22 nanometers. Loongson chips are also incompatible with Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which many consumers in China and elsewhere find synonymous with desktop computing.

However, China’s chips may have a significant impact on Intel and the world in general in an area of computing where Windows isn’t so critical. That’s because Godson chips could ease the adoption of Internet-centric computing in China and other developing nations by cutting the cost of the the servers that underpin Internet and cloud services.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Listen in as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.