In California last week, Chinese researchers unveiled details of a microprocessor that they hope will bring personal computing to most ordinary people in China by 2010. The chip, code-named Godson-3, was developed with government funding by more than 200 researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Computing Technology ICT .
China is making a late entry into chip making, admits Zhiwei Xu, deputy director of ICT. Twenty years ago in China, we didn t support R&D for microprocessors, he said during a presentation last week at the Hot Chips conference, in Palo Alto. The decision makers and [Chinese] IT community have come to realize that CPUs [central processing units] are important.
Tom Halfhill, an analyst at research firm In-Stat, says that the objective for China is to take control of the design and manufacture of vital technology. Like America wants to be energy independent, China wants to be technology independent, Halfhill says. They don t want to be dependent on outside countries for critical technologies like microprocessors, which are, nowadays, a fundamental commodity. Federal laws also prohibit the export of state-of-the-art microprocessors from the United States to China, meaning that microchips shipped to China are usually a few generations behind the newest ones in the West.