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Regarding the article:

China mulls national CPU architecture spec

by Rick Merritt

found on EETimes (A UBM Company) 4/23/2012


Feedback from the analysts at Strategy Sanity follows...


Some important things to remember:

China is a centralized government society. It has been forever. Free independent thought and marching to your own beat "isn't encouraged." So if the word goes out, "you will design with CNP (China Nationalist Processor)" then one guesses there will not be a lot of wandering designs.

Given the chance to use an existing microprocessor instruction set architecture (ISA), including an on-the-bargain-rack MIPS, or to design a brand new architecture that is all your own, who wouldn't opt for a shiny new architecture? x86 has roots in the 1970's (a decade you young'uns may not know about). ARM got started a few years later in the very early 1980's. MIPS, SPARC, etc. are also long-in-the-tooth RISC (ref the history books). Most proprietary arch's are also very old. Yes, there are C-cores, and Godsons, Long<something>, but those are knock-offs or sporadic architectures.

I don't get the feeling China (if we can speak of the country as one unified mass with a single purpose) is interested in picking the best existing architecture and ecosystem. It feels a lot to me more like they're wanting to take their massive human capital and applying it to designing a new processor architecture that might take advantage of all the latest and current concepts in processors and system designs, rather than picking up whatever a long evolution has left at the doorstep. Renesas did this designing their RX architecture recently and it's pretty neat and clean.        more —^


Wouldn't all of us as engineers, knowing what we know now, love to start with a clean sheet of paper and lay out a new processor architecture that can comprehend all the needs of control, integer, floating point, SIMD, graphics, video, networking, signal processing, etc. in one grand architecture, blended nicely with current memory structures and even considering manufacturing process technology, without the baggage of backwards compatibility?

And somebody show me where China has been enthusiastic about embracing or paying for outside IP. They're looking for a showcase, their own architecture, and this sounds like it. (Don't you remember the Olympics?)

Now, we also all know how extremely difficult the task ahead would be to be successful (and "extremely" isn't a big enough word for it), but did I mention centralized government, control, and massive manpower? China is a huge country with a huge self-contained market.

Or maybe they'll try to twist an existing architecture for their own purposes, but other than left-to-right ASCII text versus vertically-oriented, more symbolic characters I can't imagine what's different about China's needs in a processor architecture than what the rest of the world needs.

Me, I'm a huge fan of the open market, free choice, and competition. But China is its own world.


-Tom      4/25/2012