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china's godson mpu aims for 28-nm

发布时间:2010-08-31    已阅读:次

china's godson mpu aims for 28-nm

ee times   by rick merritt

palo alto, calif. -- a chief architect of china's microprocessor initiative described an ambitious set of new godson cpus including a server chip with vector processing. wei-wu hu, a professor at beijing's institute of computing technology that has led development of the chips, announced several new 65 nm parts debuting in 2011 and plans to leapfrog to a 28-nm process for the next generation.

the ict has developed six generations of the mips-based godson chips since it started work on the architecture in 2001. hu presented a paper at hot chips focusing on the latest high-end part, the godson 3b.

the eight-core processor runs at up to a gigahertz and consumes 40w in a 65-nm stmicroelectronics process. the chip--which taped out in may and will be in silicon in september--measures 300 mm2 and delivers 128 gigaflops, hu said.

the heart of the chip is the 64-bit, mips-compatible 464v core which sports a superscalar out-of-order pipeline capable of retiring four instructions per clock cycle. it supports 200 instructions to emulate the intel x86.

the "v" in the core's name indicates the latest twist in the godson design, extensions for vector processing.

the core extends its previous 64-bit floating point unit with a 256-bit simd vector unit including eight 64-bit macs. engineers also created a unique interface to feed the chip with pre-formatted data.

hu provided little performance information for the part. however, he did say a single gigahertz core could decode h.264 video in 1080-pixel progressive resolution at up to 100 frames per second. the results are based on a combination of fpga prototypes and rtl simulation.

the godson 3b chip is currently in wafer testing. researchers have yet to see the first packaged chips.

hu showed several board-level examples of designs that will use the 3b in servers or as nodes in massively parallel supercomputing clusters. earlier this year shenzhen-based computer maker dawning information industry co. ltd. created a petaflops system based on intel and nvidia processors and said its next generation will use the 16-core godson 3c.

hu suggested some of the godson designs could hit performance levels of multiple petaflops—potentially putting china's designers in the number one slot on the list of the world's top 500 supercomputers for the first time. the server chips also aim at design wins in high-end embedded systems.

a big leap behind the x86

also on the road map is the godson 2h, a single-chip pc processor that integrates graphics, a memory controller and a full suite of peripherals due in late 2011. hu's group also plans a 16-core server chip for 2012, the godson 3c.

the godson paper created a buzz at hot chips where hu was peppered with questions after his talk. however, some--including analyst nathan brookwood of insight64 in a video interview--expressed skepticism whether china could make good on its ambitious plans, particularly for securing 28nm process technology.

the eight-core godson 3b is in the works at a time when amd is already shipping a 12-core server chip. intel described at hot chips its westmere-ex, a 32nm dual-threaded, ten-core server processor with advanced security and virtualization features it will ship soon.

china's cpu engineers plan to leapfrog 45nm process technology, using a 28nm process for their next generation design. hu optimistically predicted he will have a prototype 28nm godson design by april, though real products will not be ready until 2012.

however, it's unclear where china will find a 28nm fab. it currently uses stmicro with tsmc as "a second source," hu said.

tsmc will have 28nm available for key partners such as xilinx and altera in 2011, but it's unclear whether a china national project would fab its part in a taiwanese foundry.

stmicro and china have a long relationship. in the early 1990's st and the shenzhen electronics group held talks about building an advanced fab in southern china, but the discussions never came to fruition.

the chinese government has invested as much as us$10 billion in a range of 16 high tech projects in the last five years, said hu, a member of china's national people's congress and a professor at ict. the projects range from china's space program to systems to handle the country's growing water pollution problem, but the brunt of the spending has gone into an initiative to develop a homegrown processor and operating system, he said.

the godson processor initiative got its start nearly a decade ago in china's 10th five-year plan. the project has met its goal of the current five-year plan--developing a range of cpus for desktops and servers.

in the next decade--the period of china's 12th and 13th five-year plans--the country aims to build out an ecosystem for the chips.