x86 chip rival Godson-2 moves to 1GHz

China's BLX has produced a version of its Godson processor that runs at 1GHz.

China's BLX IC Design Co. has produced a prototype version of its Godson-2 processor that runs at a clock speed of 1GHz.

"Technology-wise it's a step forward," said Eddie Zeng, the chief executive officer of BLX, in Beijing. Called Godson-2E, the new chip is currently in the early stages of manufacturing, and will enter mass production before the end of this year, he said.

While pricing has not been decided, the chip will not be expensive. "It should be cheaper than the Pentium 4," Zeng said,

Like other chips in the Godson family, the Godson-2E was designed by the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Computing Technology (ICT) and was produced using 90-nanometer process technology. Earlier versions of the Godson-2 chip were produced using a 180-nanometer process and ran at clock speeds up to 500MHz.

The numbers used to describe chip-production processes refer to the size of the smallest feature that can be created on a chip. Smaller numbers indicate a more advanced process. Moving to production with a more advanced process offers several advantages. It means the chip can be made smaller, which reduces per-unit production costs, and allows designers to produce chips that are faster and consume less power.

Unlike processors from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices or Via Technologies, the Godson-2E is not based on the x86 instruction set. Instead, the chip uses a modified version of the MIPS instruction set that replaces proprietary instructions with ones developed by ICT. This means the Godson-2E cannot be used in PCs running Microsoft's Windows XP operating system.

But that does not worry Zeng. "The Godson is not meant for traditional PCs," he said, noting that efforts are underway to produce computing devices based on the Godson, including computers running the Linux operating system.

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