Will China's CPUs soon overtake Intel and AMD?

Photo of an old processor under CC license courtesy of Andrew Dunn (http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/) and referenced on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Intel_80486DX2_bottom.jpg)

Like the antiquated American cars still driving on Cuban roads, China’s economy still runs on Five-Year Plans. With China’s growing wealth, the last few Five-Year Plans have been able to fund projects from the Chinese space program to developing green energy.

The latest Five-Year Plan is named China Next Generation Internet (CNGI). China is seeking to broaden its use of and role in the Internet community. Part of its strategy is to foster a homegrown industry of hardware and software and perhaps to eventually lead the markets in those areas.

One key industry that the Chinese government is focusing on is the processor market. An article in EE Times describes the new generation of Godson CPUs that are being developed under the leadership of the Beijing Institute of Computing Technology. The next generation is due out in 2011, but will still be a bit behind the market currently dominated by Intel and AMD.

The Godson 3B microchip will have eight cores and 65-nm parts, be 64-bit, and will incorporate vector processing (read more about the difference between scalar processing and other forms such as probability processing). Although most current processors on the market use less-robust scalar processing technology, China’s new CPUs will still be behind in the number of processor cores when they hit the market in 2011.

But the future for Chinese computing looks brighter. After 2011, the next generation of Godson CPUs will skip over the current standard of 45nm/32nm process technology and use 28nm instead. But some are skeptical that China can reach this benchmark. And once it does, perhaps Intel and AMD will be there too.

Nevertheless, China is an emerging player in the international CPU market, and, if it delivers on its promises, stands a good chance of competing against the big dogs: Intel and AMD.