Oh Dear! Yet Another Architecture Competing With Wintel

For a few years now I have seen home-grown microprocessors shipping in China. The Register has an update and a roadmap for the Longsoon/Godson family of MIPS processors. These can run GNU/Linux or Irix but not that other OS (except CE…). It seems that these processors are reasonably competitive with x86/amd64 in price/performance and cover the same range of applications. Wintel is completely surrounded now with ARM biting at their heels and Godson going for the jugular…

Here’s one for sale by Lemote for $190 FOB Shanghai. That comes with a 10″ screen, 1gB RAM and an 800 MHz processor. Not quick but adequate for GNU/Linux. Ships with RedFlag or Debian GNU/Linux. They can make 200K units per month… They also ship a miniature PC having a mass of 0.78 kg and an all-in-one PC.

UPDATE Here is a video of Loongson v2 from 2007

Here is a Lemote tiny box from 2006:

Imagine how well version 3 works today.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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6 Responses to Oh Dear! Yet Another Architecture Competing With Wintel

  1. Ray says:

    “The Loongson implements a ’486 architecture so current versions of that other OS do not run on it.”

    Wait, I thought the loongson runs MIPS, the same architecture that runs the N64.

  2. You are correct. Using QEMU, Loongson can run x86 stuff but that is very slow. Loongson can run GNU/Linux natively. Emulating is supposed to be 70% the speed of x86 at the same clockspeed in Loongson-3 the newest version. I think there are still some patent issues on x86 that prevent them from ever making a full x86 version. Can “7” run on a 486?

  3. Is that so? My understanding was that it’s an accelerator for QEMU’s x86 emulation rather than a direct hardware implemention of x86. I’d expect that arrangement to be able to run anything QEMU can, including x86_64, SSE3 and so on.

  4. The Loongson implements a ‘486 architecture so current versions of that other OS do not run on it. CE does though. ARM will still beat it on power consumption just because Loongson flips useless bits. I think the idea of Loongson is to have something homegrown in order to achieve independence. If they can make a modern version they will have achieved IT independence. China is very close to that. They literally do not need much from the likes of Wintel. GNU/Linux and Android/Linux fit well into that idea of independence. Although neither was made in China, both can be legally adopted without having to pay licensing fees for what they can produce in-house.

  5. It’s an interesting architecture. I think the features enabling hardware-accelerated x86 emulation are particularly important for compatibility with existing software. It *can* run that “other” OS, in a hardware-accelerated instance of QEMU.

    (It’s a mystery to me why ARM never introduced x86 acceleration along with their “Jazelle” Java acceleration. I can think of a few possible reasons why it was never done, but I’d love to know the real answer.)

  6. Bender says:

    To be hones’t i can’t see them competing right now. They can only compete by losing money, look at their fab process, they are big!

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