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China braces for first 'homegrown' MPUs

Posted: 29 Aug 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:multicore? CPU? MPU? processor?

Chinese researchers are preparing the first multicore versions of Godson, the country's first homegrown MPU, with four-core and eight-core designs scheduled to be released in the next months. The country hopes to build a petaflops high-performance computer based on the Godson-3 in 2010.

The four-core version of the Godson-3 is expected to be launched before the end of the year, and tape out of the eight-core version is by 2009, according to Zhiwei Xu, deputy directory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Computing Technology, who presented a paper on the Godson-3 architecture at the Hot Chips conference.

Both versions of the Godson-3 employed 65nm, with clock speed of 1GHz. The design has a distributed, scalable architecture with reconfigurable CPU core and L2 cache. The devices are designed for low power use with the four-core drawing 10W while the eight-core has 20W, according to Xu. The designs uses MIPS64 cores with more than 200 additional instructions for X86 binary translation and media acceleration.

The deputy director did not give any timeframe when will be the mass production of Godson-3, but said China seeks to build a PFlops system based on Godson-3 in 2010. "This will also be used in smaller teraflops computers for the desktop," he said.

Processors' versions
Godson processors, also known as Loongson, are manufactured and marketed by STMicroelectronics NV under an agreement announced in March 2007. The original 32bit Godson-1 was released in 2002 by the China government backed BLX IC Design Corp. In early 2005, BLX released a 64bit version of the CPU. Since then, there have been several iterations of the Godson-2, each with triple the performance of its predecessor, according to Xu.

ZhongKe Menglan Electronics Technology Co. Ltd began offering a low-cost computer based on Godson to schools and governments in 2007. The devices have yet to gain much traction in mass market products. Xu said one of the objectives for the Godson project is to help China supply more of its own massive electronics market.

Next year, it plans to launch the Godson-2H, which will have graphics processor functionality with CPU functions and the Northbridge and Southbridge function into a SoC, Xu said. "We'll try to provide our customers with a very clean design," he said.

The Godson-3 architecture is based on a low leakage process, with manual clock gating and power management features such as module-level clock gating, frequency scaling and temperature sensing.

He added roughly 300 people at the Institute of Computing Technology work on the Godson processors, and about 200 are working on the hardware, while 100 of them are focusing on the software.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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