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China launches Linux "dragon chip", challenges Intel

Server chip good performer, reliable, stable
Fri Sep 27 2002, 13:14
THE PEOPLE'S DAILY reports that China has built its first server chip which uses a localised form of Linux, and which it dubs the "Dragon Chip".

The CPU was built and developed by the Computer Institution of the Chinese Academy of Science, and is part of its "Soaring Dragon" project to take advantage of the fact that it will be the second biggest semiconductor market in the world by 2010.

And indeed, if the US doesn't watch out, it might also be the biggest producer of semiconductors even earlier than that, according to analysts at iSuppli.

The semi market is growing by 35 per cent per year, according to the newspaper, and will need 17 billion chips before 2005. China obviously wants to do it all itself.

The Dragon Chip, according to the report, is stable, reliable and a good performer for servers and for websites using servers.

And it will also be used in China's national security and defence projects.

China, it said, used to use American chips but building defence based on "foreign" technology somewhat worried the military, it appears.

According to the article, the "Dragon Chip" is possibly faced with problems over intellectual property, although the newspaper claims that this doesn't necessarily follow.

It cites Taiwanese company Via as able to make Intel compatible CPUs without breaching Intel's monopoly.

But actually, this argument doesn't necessarily follow for the "Dragon Chip". By acquiring Cyrix intellectual property and patents, Via has X86 compatibility and during the 1990s, the battles over whether these chips infringed Intel's property rights were fought and won by the then Richardson-based company.

So what sort of chip is it? The article, here, says that the Chinese CPU is based on RISC technology.

According to sources close to China's plans, its military requirements specifically avoid Microsoft software, which the generals believe to be a flawed system in a battle zone. Other sources tell us that China has also successfully built clones of the DEC, now Intel Alpha microprocessor.

This will be an interesting development, we think. µ

See Also
China takes on CPU design
Chinese boffins have 150MHz Windows chip
Mainland China set to rule the semi world
Intel eyes China through the gathering gloom
Intel wants China as favoured eastern customer
China to become centre of everything
Intel's Barrett confirms Chinese push
Chinese Linux to topple Windows


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