BEIJING BLX IC Design Corp., one of China's best known developers of homegrown processor technology, has released a 64-bit version of its CPU that reportedly matches the performance of the Pentium 3.
The company signed a handful of agreements this week with local Chinese firms to include the Godson-2 core in products ranging from routers to a system chip designed to implement the audio visual codec specification, known as AVS, which is emerging in China.
The development stands in contrast to problems BLX has had trying to raise cash to continue its product development after one of its main investors declined to deliver on more funding (see March 28, 2005 story).
In 2002, BLX launched the Godson-1, a 32-bit, 266-MHz standard cell implementation of a proprietary architecture based on the MIPS instruction set and manufactured in a 0.18-micron process. However, the company has never been able to get traction in the market, despite claiming to have rallied local industry support around its architecture to 60 companies, including Haier, a major manufacturer of appliances and consumer electronics in China.
The latest Godson runs at a clock frequency of between 300 MHz and 500 MHz, despite using the same 0.18-micron process. Because of the lower performance of its predecessor, the chip has mostly been used in less demanding embedded applications. The Godson-2, say its designers, is up to the task of being designed into general purpose computing platform.
"It is a reasonable performance level that can satisfy most desktop applications," said Zeng Ming, the chief executive of BLX. "It can run office applications on Linux, which wasn't really smooth on Godson-1. It can also run web applications, like browsers, and it will play DVDs smoothly."
The processor supports a variety of operating systems including Linux for MIPS, VxWorks for MIPS, NetBSD for MIPS and Windows CE.
The company is already at work on a 64-bit version that will migrate to a 0.13-micron process and support multithreading. It should be released in 2006, according to the company's roadmap.