LONDON The Chinese 64-bit processor known as Godson-2, or Dragon, follows an unauthorized, unlicensed variation of the MIPS architecture, perhaps creating an intellectual property (IP) controversy between the U.S. and China, according to market research company In-Stat.
In-Stat (Scottsdale, Ariz.) studied the Godson architecture and the Godson-2 processor and concluded that China is capable of designing world-class microprocessors. It also found that Chinese designers are hindered by chip manufacturing capabilities that lags about two generations behind the rest of the world. If China was prepared to use independent foundries, it could gain on the rest of the world, but that could prompt IP controversy, In-Stat predicted.
The Godson architecture closely resembles the MIPS architecture from MIPS Technologies Inc. (Mountain View, Calif.) and is about 95 percent MIPS-compatible. In particular the Godson-2 processor is similar to the MIPS R10000, introduced in 1995, In-Stat said, adding that MIPS Technologies has no connection with Godson and hasn't licensed technology to Godson designers.
China is currently producing Godson processors only for the domestic market, but international exports are possible if Chinese manufacturers embed processors in consumer electronics products and other exports.
In-Stat said its conclusions are based on an independent analysis and an interview with Weiwu Hu, Godson's chief architect. Weiwu is a professor at the Institute for Computing Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, In-Stat said.
The market researchers also concluded that China is capable of designing “world class” microprocessors, which pose a threat to established players if Chinese companies decide to go global.
In-Stat senior analyst Tom Halfhill said China is “catching up fast” when it comes to microprocessor technology and noted that “the only restraint on their performance is that Chinese chip-fabrication technology lags about two generations behind the rest of the industry.”