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China Moves Toward One CPU Architecture to Rule Them All

By - Source: ExtremeTech | B 98 comments

There are rumors that the Chinese government is interested in unifying a processor architecture in China.

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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  • 30 Hide
    cheepstuff , April 29, 2012 7:23 PM
    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.
  • 25 Hide
    drwho1 , April 29, 2012 7:22 PM
    Not surprised.
    china copies everything.
  • 25 Hide
    Anonymous , April 29, 2012 8:09 PM
    Unified Architecture? In China? Hmmm... I guess it this will be the first ever CPU with implemented hardware censorship.
Other Comments
  • 23 Hide
    Regor245 , April 29, 2012 7:20 PM
    Made in China
  • 25 Hide
    drwho1 , April 29, 2012 7:22 PM
    Not surprised.
    china copies everything.
  • 30 Hide
    cheepstuff , April 29, 2012 7:23 PM
    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.
  • 20 Hide
    Marco925 , April 29, 2012 8:08 PM
    bringmeanotherI dont get it, why would you care about some other country's policy? If they want to squash competition and impoverish themselves, it is their right and no other nation has the right to interfere in their internal affairs unless they have signed some kind of trade treaty.

    Some of us would like to access that market for Sale. We open our market to them, and they in return impose huge tariffs and go out of their way to make sure they don't buy western products. Kinda lop sided eh?
  • 25 Hide
    Anonymous , April 29, 2012 8:09 PM
    Unified Architecture? In China? Hmmm... I guess it this will be the first ever CPU with implemented hardware censorship.
  • 10 Hide
    erunion , April 29, 2012 8:14 PM
    bringmeanother,

    While we do lack the moral authority to use violence to impose our preferences on others, that does not apply to non-violent methods. No person or collective has a right to not be criticized.
  • 12 Hide
    sabot00 , April 29, 2012 8:14 PM
    Marco925Some of us would like to access that market for Sale. We open our market to them, and they in return impose huge tariffs and go out of their way to make sure they don't buy western products. Kinda lop sided eh?

    You sound just like the British's justification for the Opium wars.

    Force a nation to accept narcotics on the basis on non-interference of free trade, the simple fact is (according to modern international law), you have no right to any country's market, at all.

    PS: The US does the same thing, protectionist cotton policies cost Mali $70 million and Brazil $120 million, home oil production is cheaper, etc.
  • 11 Hide
    BringMeAnother , April 29, 2012 8:20 PM
    Marco925Some of us would like to access that market for Sale. We open our market to them, and they in return impose huge tariffs and go out of their way to make sure they don't buy western products. Kinda lop sided eh?


    Here is the problem. You just expressed what you, as a foreigner (American?), desires and it is irrelevant to the Chinese, just like what the Chinese wants is irrelevant to you. Look, nation states will always try to do what they perceive as their national interest even tho in this instance I believe it is a short sighted choice, the is no reason to be surprised or angry at them for doing what they perceive as their national interest, even if that choice hurts or benefits some other nation.
  • 2 Hide
    erunion , April 29, 2012 8:26 PM
    bringmeanotherLook, nation states will always try to do what they perceive as their national interest


    Nation states will continue to do what they believe to be in their own self interest only so long as their populations continue to believe that the existence of the nation state is in their own self interest. When that is no longer true we will transition to some new political structure. What that may be and whether it is to the benefit or determent of humanity depends on the battle of ideas.
  • 24 Hide
    brickman , April 29, 2012 8:29 PM
    You really know you are communist when everyone has the same CPU.

    Anyone caught overclocking the communist CPU will be immediately executed. :p 
  • -9 Hide
    chewy62 , April 29, 2012 8:34 PM
    found a good place to send any leftover pentium 4s and bulldozers
  • 5 Hide
    michaeladebose , April 29, 2012 8:35 PM
    This is an interesting development and may be the wave of the future. Taken with the decision of many of our European allies to move to opensource software and away from US proprietary solutions, gaining them greater control to alter said platforms and potentially less US familiarity with what they're using, its clear sovereign IT security is driving these decisions.

    Having a home grown UPU and the accompanying custom OS doesn't remove extra-continental security threats but it greatly decreases the number of people that will be familiar with it and thus capable of hacking it. Obviously, what will be used in the public sector isn't what will be used in the secure sector but many currently understood and even some planned threats might get sidestepped altogether. Indeed.
  • 9 Hide
    bit_user , April 29, 2012 8:40 PM
    I wonder if this is motivated more more out of a desire to control what software is available to its people. Or if it's just driven by commercial interests.

    Either way, the potential exists for it to hurt them, commercially. Then again, look at how x86 has played to Intel's advantage.
  • 4 Hide
    jsc , April 29, 2012 8:45 PM
    Quote:
    Taken with the decision of many of our European allies to move to opensource software and away from US proprietary solutions, gaining them greater control to alter said platforms and potentially less US familiarity with what they're using, its clear sovereign IT security is driving these decisions.

    One of the great security measures - security by obscurity.
  • 0 Hide
    bit_user , April 29, 2012 8:49 PM
    sabot00PS: The US does the same thing, protectionist cotton policies cost Mali $70 million and Brazil $120 million, home oil production is cheaper, etc.
    Yeah, and Brazil sued the US for it, and now the US is paying Billions, anually, in fines. I don't know about Mali.

    bringmeanotherI believe it is a short sighted choice, the is no reason to be surprised or angry at them for doing what they perceive as their national interest, even if that choice hurts or benefits some other nation.
    Actually, I think you're half-right. No reason to be surprised. However, for capitalism to work, you need to have a level playing field. When one group tries to bias the system in some way, the fairness and effectiveness of the whole system is compromised. That's why I think there's just cause to be angry about governments doing anti-competitive things.

    What I worry about is how this move may affect me as a user of computers and electronic goods. Is their architecture going to handicap the performance of any code running on it that wasn't digitally signed by the Chinese Government?
  • -6 Hide
    sixpac502 , April 29, 2012 8:58 PM
    lol a Chinese cpu with 200% more built in spyware.I wonder if they will sell it in their fake apple stores and deliver it in their fake ford f150 trucks while wearing a fake pair of dickies work clothes.It will be called the shintell icy bwridge lol hahahahaha.
  • 0 Hide
    memadmax , April 29, 2012 8:59 PM
    ROFL.......
  • 5 Hide
    memadmax , April 29, 2012 9:02 PM
    bit_userI wonder if this is motivated more more out of a desire to control what software is available to its people. Or if it's just driven by commercial interests.Either way, the potential exists for it to hurt them, commercially. Then again, look at how x86 has played to Intel's advantage.


    Correct on both counts.
    They will control the flow of information, and they will control the hardware that was being used and profit...
    As soon as their "UPU" is up and running they will kick out intel and everyone else and force their people to buy the upu and throw their intel/amd based units away immediately.
  • 4 Hide
    CaedenV , April 29, 2012 9:05 PM
    bit_userI wonder if this is motivated more more out of a desire to control what software is available to its people. Or if it's just driven by commercial interests.Either way, the potential exists for it to hurt them, commercially. Then again, look at how x86 has played to Intel's advantage.

    That is exactly what I was thinking. Control the CPU and you automatically gain control over the software and abilities of the computers to do things. All of the sudden you get the old P4 technology that broadcasts your CPU whenever you do something online, which is tied directly to you as an individual. Also it becomes a way for the government to get into the OS and document programs of every citizen in the market. Anyone designing anything that has buzz words in it could immediately be flagged and watched more easily.
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