LONDON Readers may be familiar with the Intel versus Advanced Micro Devices saga in the west, but things happen a little bit differently in China.
The news that ST is making a processor based on the Loongson-2E core for the Institute of Computing Technology (ICT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and had taken a MIPS license to avoid any potential unpleasantness over patent infringement came shortly after Paul Otellini, chief executive officer of Intel, had announced plans for a trailing-edge 300-mm wafer fab in Dalian, China.
When we consider that the Loongson 2E processor is a personal computer or laptop CPU and is already making some limited sales, and one considers the degree of regulation in China one can see that engaging with China is part of being acceptable.
The Intel versus AMD saga we are used to in the west is based pretty much on an open market, albeit with the occasional whiff of alleged monopolistic behavior. In China it is the state that has the monopoly and the ability to direct and control computer purchasing that can be 10s of millions of 100s of millions units.
Of course China cannot ignore or outlaw Intel as a supplier of computer CPUs - or AMD for that matter - but it can bring pressure to bear and it can foster its home-grown alternatives just to remind western chipmakers that there is a big market inside China waiting to fall to the chipmakers who engage in the right way.
My guess is that both Intel and STMicroelectronics have done just that - at least for now. But China will be back sooner rather than later with more hints about what is expected from western companies that want to engage with the Chinese market.
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