China Moves Toward One CPU Architecture to Rule Them All

ExtremeTech is referring to "various industry sources" that state that the Chinese government has begun the process of picking a national computer chip instruction set architecture (ISA). There is reasonable credibility for such a rumor as China has said for some time that it wants to decrease its dependency on Western CPU architectures and eventually transition entirely to a domestic product.

According to the article, MIPS, Alpha, ARM, Power, and China's own UPU are up for consideration. While it is pure speculation when and if such a standardization decision will be made, it is almost common sense to anticipate that China will keep this one in its own country and be biased toward UPU. However, companies such as MIPS still have hope that they can score with the Chinese government as the Longsoon processor has its origins in a MIPS core. MIPS said that it expects results and answers within a few months.

In a conversation with EETimes, ARM president Tudor Brown said that he was aware of China's ISA moves, and noted that [ARM understands] China’s initial desire to have its own ISA, and [ARM continues] to cooperate and discuss with the key people involved to reach a good solution. However, ARM pricing has reached millions of dollars for a single license, which may out of reach for many Chinese chip makers. According to the report, ARM has more than 34 licensees in China while MIPS has more than 20.

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  • cheepstuff
    Enforcing one architecture means necessarily excluding others. If they strictly enforce a single architecture among manufacturers, and disallow other possibilities, they are shooting themselves in the foot by restricting innovation. The whole reason a variety of architectures are roaming the marketplace is because consumers have a use for them. If one instruction set met all consumer requirements to begin with, there would be only one kind of instruction set. Suppose an revolutionary instruction set is invented in ten years, the Chinese will lag behind the rest of the world because government officials cannot evolve as fast as a free market.
    Centrally planned shenanigans like this will hurt the Chinese people. A government should not needlessly take away the rights of the consumers to choose the product they want to buy just because a bureaucrat thinks they have an original idea.
    30
  • Anonymous
    Unified Architecture? In China? Hmmm... I guess it this will be the first ever CPU with implemented hardware censorship.
    25
  • drwho1
    Not surprised.
    china copies everything.
    25
  • Other Comments
  • Regor245
    Made in China
    23
  • drwho1
    Not surprised.
    china copies everything.
    25
  • cheepstuff
    Enforcing one architecture means necessarily excluding others. If they strictly enforce a single architecture among manufacturers, and disallow other possibilities, they are shooting themselves in the foot by restricting innovation. The whole reason a variety of architectures are roaming the marketplace is because consumers have a use for them. If one instruction set met all consumer requirements to begin with, there would be only one kind of instruction set. Suppose an revolutionary instruction set is invented in ten years, the Chinese will lag behind the rest of the world because government officials cannot evolve as fast as a free market.
    Centrally planned shenanigans like this will hurt the Chinese people. A government should not needlessly take away the rights of the consumers to choose the product they want to buy just because a bureaucrat thinks they have an original idea.
    30