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China Switching To Home-Grown Chips For Supercomputers

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the extreme-dogfooding dept.

Supercomputing 198

rubycodez writes "The Tianhe-1A system will be the last Chinese supercomputer to use imported Intel and AMD processors. By years end, China's own 64 bit MIPS-compatible 65nm 8-core 1GHz version of the Godsen (Longsoon family) processors will be used, including 10,000 of them for the 'Dawning 6000' supercomputer. Yes, the chips can and usually do run GNU/Linux, but also can run FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD."

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Domination (0)

devxo (1963088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463132)

This makes sure US companies can't hide spying equipment and China slowly but surely takes more foothold over technology and in the end gaining world domination.

Re:Domination (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463174)

I wish they weren't pissed of by somewhere else which imposed its own tactics for world domination (ie. order) now and in past.

Re:Domination (2)

louic (1841824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463176)

I am not sure if I should be worried of relieved now that we get Chinese instead of American spying equipment inside our processors.

Re:Domination (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463292)

China's own 64 bit MIPS-compatible 65nm 8-core 1GHz version of the Godsen (Longsoon family) processors
I don't think this one will overrun the world wide chip markets anytime soon, Intel and AMD chips are a bit more advanced.

Re:Domination (4, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463468)

Taking a snapshot of where the Longsoon is now and comparing against where AMD and Intel are now is flawed. The processor business chases moving targets, rather than comparing single samples you need to look at a longer history to try to estimate the rate of change.

Intel started 30 years ago. The Longsoon project started 9 years ago. In that time they have closed the gap on Intel to about 3 years. This 65nm design is comparable with something from about 2007 (the clock speed is lower but having 8 cores helps a lot). The real question is where they will go next.

If they meet their stated plan they are going to skip the 45nm node and make the Longsoon 3B on a 28nm process. They are aiming at a higher clockspeed, more cores and a large integrated vector co-processor that would rival Fusion or Larabee. If they can do what they claim then they are in the process of overtaking Intel and AMD now and we will see the effects on the world processor market over the next five years.

Whether or not they can do this is a big question, and according to the stories in the press it caused quite a debate at HotChips when they announced these plans. It's not clear who will be licensing them a 28nm fab, or quite how they've packed that much into a design. It's not clear how AMD and Intel will respond to a new competitor with state backed funding and a huge protected market.

The next five years will be interesting times...

Re:Domination (5, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463526)

Taking a snapshot of where the Longsoon is now and comparing against where AMD and Intel are now is flawed. The processor business chases moving targets, rather than comparing single samples you need to look at a longer history to try to estimate the rate of change.

I'm sorry, but it's ridiculous to think that because Longsoon starts today at 1GHz, that they will be able to accelerate faster than Intel and eventually overtake them. The rate of change has got nothing to do with the starting point. A 1GHz MIPS core is easy to make by today's standards, so it just doesn't mean anything.

Re:Domination (2)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463666)

Intel and AMD are hampered by having to provide legacy compatibility, MIPS is a much newer designed architecture that should impose less bottlenecks on processor advancement.

Re:Domination (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463872)

A 1990s Toyota is "easy" to make today, but if China starts making them in bulk then Toyota wouldn't be happy.

In a world where slightly outdated chips are "good enough", and the marginal cost of making them is probably a few bucks, I'd be very worried if a really big competitor was breathing down my neck.

It would be commercially suicidal to try and undercut AMD, because a price war would leave no profits for either competitor. So even if it's "easy" to start a price war, nobody wants one. Unless, of course, they happen to be a very large country, that would like to buttress their national accounts by driving down the price of chips.

Chip manufacturers are near monopolies, who invest their profits into research. Great. But chip design is becoming one of those problems that doesn't *really* need solving. Incremental upgrades will be nice, and I'm sure that there will still be some innovation, but many people would rather have slower innovation and cheaper parts than expensive parts and faster innovation.

Re:Domination (1)

itzdandy (183397) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464270)

"one of those problems that doesn't *really* need solving"

I would argue that it desperately needs solving. Current computer chips are power hungry monsters that have so many legacy systems that not old eat up die real-estate which adds cost but also eat up power.

Data centers are becoming hot spots for resource usage, sucking in amazing amounts of electricity. One day, data centers will rival high rise office buildings and industrial plants in how much polution they are responsible, and that day is coming quickly.

Re:Domination (3, Informative)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463600)

You make a good point. One of the tragedies of the US is our frontier and pioneering spirit. (Not that other people and countries don't have the exact same thing. But the US just happens to be the biggest right now.) We do the hard work of inventing a lot of things, the hard work of refining the processes. And then other countries and peoples learn from our mistakes and do "better" than we did at it.

Of course, it would probably have been a lot harder for the Chinese if some Intel or AMD partner hadn't sold their fab plant to the Chinese.

I'm not complaining- I'd still rather be in the US. But it is galling to hear people make comparisons that just don't work. It is easy to improve upon something that someone has already been busting their asses on. This doesn't make the Chinese "better" (nor does inventing it first make the US better). It's just a different thing.

At work the other day, someone was pounding their head against the wall trying to figure out why their computer wouldn't read a DVD. Hours. They ask me what I think might be wrong. "Maybe the disk is corrupted?" Sure enough, the disk was (functionally) blank. They effused and groveled at my "genius". Fuck no. They did all the other things, I just identified (guessed) at the thing they didn't try.

Also, the pioneers get the arrows and the settlers get the land. Beware!

Re:Domination (3, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463828)

We do the hard work of inventing a lot of things, the hard work of refining the processes. And then other countries and peoples learn from our mistakes and do "better" than we did at it.

And all of mankind benefits. Too bad so many people are stuck in the "us and them" mindset.

Re:Domination (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35464104)

The problem is that the they have an "us and them" mindset.

Re:Domination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35464174)

yeah its them that has the "us and them" mindset not us.

Underwhelming Chinese Overlords! (-1, Flamebait)

Auroch (1403671) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463686)

Taking a snapshot of where the Longsoon is now and comparing against where AMD and Intel are now is flawed. The processor business chases moving targets, rather than comparing single samples you need to look at a longer history to try to estimate the rate of change.

Intel started 30 years ago. The Longsoon project started 9 years ago. In that time they have closed the gap on Intel to about 3 years. This 65nm design is comparable with something from about 2007 (the clock speed is lower but having 8 cores helps a lot). The real question is where they will go next.

Yes, it's amazing how fast the chinese can reverse engineer old technology! Good thing there are strong copy-protection laws in force to prevent this sort of thing.

Re:Underwhelming Chinese Overlords! (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463748)

Yes, it's amazing how fast the chinese can reverse engineer old technology! Good thing there are strong copy-protection laws in force to prevent this sort of thing.

All snark aside, this does point out something very important; The Chinese can never surpass the performance of the people they're copying. On the other hand, they can price them right out of the market. The down side (for the entrenched powers) with the world going multicore is that you can solve problems by just throwing more cores at them. Granted, there are plenty of problems which can't be solved in this way, but even a really crappy CPU core of today is shockingly impressive by Ye Olde Tyme standards. When I think about the difference between my old Sun 4/260 and the cute little netbook on my lap with the 1.2 GHz 64 bit processor and the 2GB of ram, which is a kiddie class machine by modern standards, it makes my mouth a little dry.

Re:Domination (0)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463724)

1999 called and they want their MHz myth back.

There's so much more to processors than process and clock speed. Processors are multi-core now; how much do you trust Chinese cache coherency? Do you trust that their VLSI folks won't screw up with something like an FDIV bug or worse?

I will honestly be surprised if they can surpass Intel or AMD. How much of Longsoon's success is made possible only because Intel and AMD wrote the book on processors?

Re:Domination (5, Insightful)

pipatron (966506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463896)

Yes, because the chinese are stupid and they don't have any engineers.

What the hell are you people on? Can't you see the clear patterns? China began exactly like every other nation: first they copy, then the invent, then they lead. Compare with Japan. In the 60ies, you spoke of "cheap japanese copies". Then they took over, now you have Toyota and Sony.

Do you really really believe that a 5000 year old civilization with nearly 1.5 billion people, the highest average IQ in the world and lead by engineers, won't figure out how to design a CPU? What will it take for you to wake up?

Re:Domination (1, Interesting)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464204)

Whoa there, watch the straw men.

You said it yourself; the Chinese have been doing this processor business for about 9 years, while Intel has been doing it for about 30. What on earth makes you think that the people with 3x the experience are stupider? If a veteran company such as Intel can make terrible mistakes like FDIV or the more recent Sandy Bridge recall, what makes you think some relative noobs won't make such mistakes?

At least in the US, when Intel gets nailed, we hear about it in the press. Do you think the repressive Chinese government would let the media know that their country's national processor has a flaw?

Re:Domination (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464024)

Which part sounded like a propagation of the Mhz myth? Was it the bit where I said that a lower clock-speed was offset by a larger number of cores.... oh wait a minute, that would be the exact opposite...

Re:Domination (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464220)

The part where you go off about the speed of the parts and the die size, without considering such things as the experience of the designers in avoiding inevitable bugs.

Re:Domination (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464118)

How much of Longsoon's success is made possible only because Intel and AMD wrote the book on processors?

What does that matter?

Re:Domination (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463756)

Im also very interested in the future and i suspect the Gap will close pretty quickly between AMD/Intel and Longsoon. Mostly because AMD/Intel has hit a brick wall if you look at per core performance. But, will there be software other than Linux supporting the Longsoon, or will China adopt some Linux version all over?

China dumping Windows would really be something spectacular and throw a big wrench into intelligence gathering from abroad.

Re:Domination (2)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463188)

Probably correct. The 19th century belonged to Europe, 20th to North America, and 21st to Asia. History keep changing, but considering that the population of Asia is so large and that China does not really rely on superstitions a Chinese hegemony may last longer than any based on European/Middle East traditions.

Re:Domination (2)

turgid (580780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463232)

China does not really rely on superstitions

Have you seen Chinese medicine?

speaking in tongues (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463286)

Compare Chinese medicin with "speaking in tongues", as seen here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZbQBajYnEc

Re:speaking in tongues (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463306)

Yes, superstition is an innate part of human nature.

Re:speaking in tongues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463410)

Yes, in a manner of speaking.

But, one should not base politics on it.

Re:speaking in tongues (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464058)

Superstition is not part of human nature; curiosity is.
Superstition is the vacuum left over when you give up, or lack the means to continue the pursuit of knowledge.

Re:speaking in tongues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35464266)

I think that superstition/religion was the "pre-science" explanatory power. Religion is just superstitious ideas formalized through writings.

Re:speaking in tongues (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463680)

Compare Chinese medicin with "speaking in tongues"

And what? That whole Western world is somehow more superstitious than the Chinese one, because a few people "speak in tongues"? By those remarkably pathetic standards, whatever country you're part of is bag-of-doorknobs stupid simply because you're part of it and made the above argument.

Re:Domination (1, Interesting)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463578)

just playing devil's advocate.
the fact is that up to about a hundred and fifty years ago or less, the chinese (and japanese) lived healthier and longer lives than europeans and americans (on average).
and nowadays chinese traditional medicine is being adapted by europeans and americans. my mother (medic, general practitioner) learned to practice acupuncture in the 1980s, and she uses it regularly. she told me several times that the religious stuff behind it is kind of stupid, but the technique works for a series of problems.
I am however aware that research into acupuncture didn't see a difference between acupuncture and sticking needles at random (so it might just be placebo). But I'm convinced it deserves some further research, because something is happening to these patients.
Regarding the GPs comment: as far as I know, going to a point where China is a superpower with the most advanced technology on Earth would simply be a return to the natural order of things... But I would like their views on human rights to change before they get very powerful.

Re:Domination (3, Informative)

Cookie3 (82257) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464032)

The Japanese elite *may* have outlived the European/American elite but I'm gonna [citation needed] you on that one... The Japanese common man, however, certainly did NOT live longer or better than his Western counterpart.

I refer you to "Standard of Living in Japan Before Industrialization: From what Level did Japan Begin? A Comment" by Yasukichi Yasuba in The Journal of Economic History Vol. 46, No. 1 (Mar., 1986), pp. 217-224.

Yasuba takes to task the notion that life for the commoner in Japan was better than that in the West. While economic development HAD been ongoing throughout the Tokugawa shogunate, and circumstances had improved for the Japanese laborer, the reality of the situation is that farmers here and farmers there both were treated very poorly. He also points out, specifically, the flaw in Hanley's research (which estimated life expectancy to be around 40 years in Japan) specifically used a source which excluded year 0 deaths, and then substituted Western infant mortality rates in its place. At the time, Japan would be much closer to India than the West. By using data which matches temple records more closely, Yasuba suggests that the actual life expectancy of the time was around 35, which (again) puts it below the West.

Re:Domination (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463908)

Those who have been treated by real Chinese medicine, as opposed to the snake oil imitations, would beg to differ. Sure, it's not more advanced than modern western medicine, but it's not based on superstition at all.

Western "medicine" was no better until a few decades ago. And even today many health problems are still treated along the lines of "we don't know how to treat this, so take this pill as it seems to work on 20% of the patients, um.... unless it's placebo".

Re:Domination (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463994)

Chinese vs Western is irrelevant.
There is scientific/evidence-based medicine, and then there is everything else.

Re:Domination (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463294)

China does not really rely on superstitions

All peoples are filled with superstitions. Just not always the same ones. The Chinese have oodles of 'em.

Re:Domination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463436)

Absolutely. The question is, do you let your superstitions and fears control you and your government? It looks like for us, the answer is yes and yes.

Re:Domination (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463616)

It would be nice for the US to be off the hook for all the evils in the world. Let China be the caretaker of the world for a while and catch all the heat and pay the bills. Then it will be Australia's turn.

Re:Domination (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464218)

Australia hasn't got enough people or engineers.

Re:Domination (3, Interesting)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463202)

That sounds like a good thing. These guys actualy make stuff instead of trolling the world with ever more batshit insane *CTA treaties.

Re:Domination (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463612)

Maybe so but I'd love to see the planning meeting.

Engineer 1: Lets build a 64 bit 1Ghz CPU.
Engineer 2: Then lets build a supercomputer out of 10,000 of them.
Marketing: 10,000 CPUs.. hmm.. Lets call it the Darwin 6,000!.

Re:Domination (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463914)

They are obviously refering to the age of the earth.

Re:Domination (1)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464234)

maybe 6000 is Darwin's IQ.

Re:Domination (3, Interesting)

jacksonyee (590218) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463210)

As a Chinese American, I'm glad to see China using their own technology, but it's hardly any sign of world domination, especially when the Chinese chips aren't anywhere close to Nehalem, Fusion, or Sandy Bridge. China has already forced Microsoft to hand over the source code to Windows previously, and being aware of exactly what you're getting from a foreign company or agency is a wise move for any developing nation. Remember the big debate over the NSA_KEY variable a while back?

Besides, when it comes to spying, I would take Mossad over Intel or AMD anyday.

Re:Domination (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463492)

when was the last time you been in a KMart, Target, Walmart or [insert BigBox store name here] you cant swing a dead cat by the tail without knocking something off the shelves that doesnt have a "Made in China" label on it, China has basically killed the rest of the world's economies with the poorly designed and cheaply manufactured products...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKv6RcXa2UI [youtube.com]

Re:Domination (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463622)

Dude, easy with the negatives.

you cant swing a dead cat by the tail without knocking something off the shelves that doesnt have a "Made in China" label on it

That means, if you swing a dead cat by the tail, you always knock something off the shelves that is made someplace other than China. That's not what you wanted to say, is it?

China has basically killed the rest of the world's economies with the poorly designed and cheaply manufactured products...

It's what you do when you're a good capitalist: Drive the competition out of the market by making things cheaper so that you still make a profit while undercutting the competition. Increase margins when everybody depends on you.

Re:Domination (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463728)

China has basically killed the rest of the world's economies with the poorly designed and cheaply manufactured products...

Or you could place the blame where it lies: With retailers who will lie to you with marketing about the quality of a shit product, and with consumers who lap up the shit gladly instead of doing some research to find a quality product. China would sell us quality goods if we refused to purchase their crap.

Re:Domination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463504)

Do the Chinese play Starcraft as much as the Koreans? Or do they hold the monopoly on WoW gold farming?

Re:Domination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35464206)

As a Chinese American, I'm glad to see China using their own technology

Are you an individual, or an offshoot of the collective?
Cast away your contrived social affinities, and be free.

Re:Domination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35464154)

Let this be a lesson to all high-tech companies that set up joint-ventures with Chinese companies promised a juicy slice of the Chinese market - but once the Chinese learn all that there is to learn, they will just Do It Yourself and the Chinese market is closed to their products.

Silly. (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463198)

That's silly. They're trying to build a supercomputer out of MIPS chips. That'll never work...

Speaking of which, it does make me wonder about all this fuss over 64 bit ARM chips for datacentres. There are already high performance, low power 64 bit MIPS chips and have been for years. They're well proven, have good compiler support, cheaply licensable, low power (perhaps not quite as los as ARM?), have standard 64 bit modes and so on.

Re:Silly. (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463220)

There are high performance, low power 64 bit MIPS for sale???

Where would I buy some of those?

Re:Silly. (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463262)

Where would I buy some of those?

You can license the core.

Re:Silly. (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463234)

That's silly. They're trying to build a supercomputer out of MIPS chips. That'll never work...

Silly? Perhaps, for a given value of "silly". But "never work"? Of course it can work - it isn't even going to be hard, all the technology and code already exists.

Re:Silly. (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463252)

Of course it can work

duh.

Re:Silly. (1)

BisexualPuppy (914772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463288)

"That's silly. They're trying to build a supercomputer out of MIPS chips. That'll never work..." THAT's what I'd call an argument. May I ask why ?

Re:Silly. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463936)

I'm assuming it's meant to be sarcasm. SGI's main business for much of its lifetime was building supercomputers based on MIPS chips.

Re:Silly. (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463298)

In addition, most of the Computer Organization and Design books I've seen use the MIPS instruction set to teach assembly and machine code and diagram the processor fairly well, so the architecture should be understood by a good number of computer scientists and therefore coders. You would think that would give MIPS an advantage, although the general attitude around them seems to be that MIPS died with Irix. I don't recall ever seeing a non-SGI MIPS computer on the market, but I haven't really been looking too hard, honestly.

Re:Silly. (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463898)

I don't recall ever seeing a non-SGI MIPS computer on the market, but I haven't really been looking too hard, honestly.

You don't recall seeing WRT54G?

Re:Silly. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463950)

MIPS licenses its instruction set, which means that, like ARM, there are a few makers of MIPS-compatible chips. A few are in a similar business to ARM, but mostly they're clustered at the opposite end of the spectrum. If you want a 64-core processor, about the only ones you're likely to find on the market at the moment are from small MIPS licensees. If you want a 2048 processor machine that can fit under your desk, a MIPS derivative is your only option. MIPS is a niche player at the moment, but it's doing quite well in that niche.

Re:Silly. (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464044)

I don't recall ever seeing a non-SGI MIPS computer on the market

PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, many consumer network devices (including, but not limited to, many Linksys and Buffalo routers), networked video players and Blu-ray players (using Sigma chipsets)...

Re:Silly. (1)

tbuskey (135499) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464228)

DEC had a number of MIPS based computers that ran Ultrix.

DECstation 3100, 5100 workstations.
The 5900 (and 5800?) mini computer.

Ultrix ran on Vaxen and MIPS systems.
The Alpha chip and OSF/Digital Unix/Tru64 replaced MIPS and were much faster.

I think SGI had Indy and Indigo2 systems at the time of the DECstations. They may have preceeded the purchase of MIPS by SGI

Re:Silly. (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463314)

Speaking of which, it does make me wonder about all this fuss over 64 bit ARM chips for datacentres. There are already high performance, low power 64 bit MIPS chips and have been for years

Not really. Low power MIPS64 chips use 10-20W. Low power ARM chips use under 1W. They're both low power within their various domains, but the ARM chips get a lot more performance per Watt. Most of the time, the MIPS chips are more interesting for supercomputing, because they have better floating point, better interconnect (there's a lot of experience floating around building large MIPS systems, a lot from ex-SGI people), better toolchains (MIPS has been in HPC so long that it's a standard target for compiler in that market), and better overall performance.

The ARM chips are interesting because a lot of server tasks are not CPU-bound. You can stick 64 ARM SoCs, each with enough flash and RAM to run a small business server, in a 1U case and not worry about heat. You can connect it to a big SAN for storage of data (just put the OS and apps on the flash). Idle power usage can be a few mW per server, power usage under load is basically the power usage of the SAN - the rest of the hardware is adding 1W or so.

It's a mistake to confuse the server and HPC markets. They have very different requirements.

Re:Silly. (2)

renoX (11677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463726)

Note that something to add is that until very recently ARM were 32bit only, which is not very good for datacenters.

They added a kludge on the ARM ISA (not as eleguant as the MIPS64 ISA) so now it isn't an issue anymore..

Re:Silly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463784)

Building a supercomputer with ARM chips vs Intel or AMD, is like building a supercomputer on Amazon micro instances. If only they were much more capable than an N900's hardware.

Is it just me or are the ARM people out in force to promote ARM on the server? They seem to have a solution to everything. "Existing chips not enough? License a core", seems to be the general attitude.

Ok people, license a core, build a good alternative server chip, then we can talk.

Re:Silly. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463874)

Building an ARM-based supercomputer is more or less what nVidia is planning, although they're taking a leaf out of IBM's book. Most of IBM's supercomputers are advertised as using PowerPC chips running Linux, but that's only part of the story. The Linux instances and the PowerPC chips (typically low-power ones, like the 4xx series) are really just there to handle I/O. The real work is done on a separate CPU that has no OS and can devote 100% of its time to the running computation. nVidia wants to do the same sort of thing, with some GPU-like cores for doing the heavy lifting, and a fairly weak ARM core for job scheduling and I/O.

As I said, servers are a very different workload. They're mostly I/O bound and, in a lot of cases, mostly limited by power consumption rather than speed.

Re:Silly. (1)

spinkham (56603) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463338)

If you were as heavily involved in attacking the computer systems of other countries as China is, you would want to make sure that you control as much of your own systems as possible.

Wrong. Dead Wrong. (4, Informative)

lkcl (517947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463378)

you are completely wrong. this processor has over 200 x86 emulation instructions, allowing it to run x86 code with only a 30% performance penalty, under qemu. it also has two 256-bit vector pipelines that provide SIMD floating-point operations so powerful that a single 1ghz core can do 1080p at over 100 frames a second. to claim that "it will never work" in the face of evidence that you simply haven't looked at is ridiculous. look up the specifications on the GS464V, please. also, you are not aware that the Chinese Government has purchased 25% of MIPS, and is working with the MIPS teams in the U.S. to create this processor. this processor *IS* MIPS's high-performance, low-power 64-bit MIPS chip.

Re:Wrong. Dead Wrong. (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463624)

Perfect example. If they will be using the supercomputer to run Windows and watch 1080p torrents.

Re:Wrong. Dead Wrong. (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463812)

it also has two 256-bit vector pipelines that provide SIMD floating-point operations so powerful that a single 1ghz core can do 1080p at over 100 frames a second.

In these modern times, if you are going to be doing lots of SIMD on your HPC, you will replace the 10,000 CPU's with 500 GPU's + 500 CPU's to drive them.

Its cheaper to buy, and cheaper to operate.

Re:Wrong. Dead Wrong. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463998)

Its cheaper to buy, and cheaper to operate.

And performance dies screaming at the first branch instruction. Yes, GPUs have great throughput, but they suck for large categories of algorithm. If they didn't, then CPUs would have the same performance. They generally lack any branch prediction, so a branch can stall the pipeline completely - if you've got more than one branch every hundred instructions, running it on the GPU won't give you anything like the theoretical maximum throughput. If your threads aren't exactly in lockstep (i.e. if two threads take different branches), say goodbye to performance too. CPUs have been heavily optimised with caches because most algorithms have a lot of locality of reference. GPUs haven't - they assume algorithms that stream large amounts of data without revisiting any of it.

In short, a MIPS CPU with a wide vector unit is going to have very different performance characteristics to a GPU and will be significantly faster for large categories of algorithm.

Re:Wrong. Dead Wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35464268)

30% performance penalty compared to what? You're just repeating the marketing bs without any benchmark or proof or even understanding: is it 30% of a 8088 or of a single core P 4 at the same frequency?

Re:Silly. (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463702)

Why not? SGI were building supercomputers from MIPS chips 10 years ago...

Re:Silly. (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463870)

Was that supposed to be sarcasm? Before SGI was destroyed by Rick Belluzzo, it made plenty of high-performance clustered computers. Considering that nost non-x86 CPU architectures development was cancelled as a result of "business" decisions, there is no reason to expect that MIPS-based computer will be somehow worse than other architectures, as long as development continues.

After all x86, taken on its own, is a terrible architecture. However continuous development allowed Intel and AMD to implement it efficiently, with better underlying technology than "straight" implementation that gave us the processors between 8086 and the original Pentium.

Re:Silly. (1)

ControlsGeek (156589) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463944)

How many can you power in a missile nose cone?

Chinese People's Daily (2)

Overunderrated (1518503) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463204)

... very trustworthy. 10,000 not-yet-fabricated CPUs are going to be powering a 1 petaflop supercomputer in less than a year? Color me skeptical. ... and anyone want to fill me in why 10,000 8-core MIPS chips at 1ghz can be expected to outperform 12,000 12-core x86 chips at 2.1ghz?

Re:Chinese People's Daily (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463354)

and anyone want to fill me in why 10,000 8-core MIPS chips at 1ghz can be expected to outperform 12,000 12-core x86 chips at 2.1ghz?

I missed that claim in TFA. There are very good reasons for wanting to use their own chips though. They have a lower power envelope (around 20W for the quad-core version), but more importantly they are helping to ramp up the economies of scale for the production. 10,000 is about the smallest run you can do for a CPU and it be cost effective. A single order of that size makes the per-unit cost low enough that it becomes attractive for other companies (or projects within China), which helps fund future development, rather than sending the R&D money overseas to the USA / Israel.

It's worth noting that these chips are now produced with all of the relevant patents licensed from MIPS Technologies, so they can legally be sold in the USA.

Re:Chinese People's Daily (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463708)

What I find funny is how nobody, not a single person, has pointed out the hypocrisy! When India and China refuse to buy overseas products and instead just do it in house it is all hunky dory, but when anyone here in the USA simply holds up a sign that says "we don't make anything here anymore" we hear screams of "Isolationist!" like that makes you a member of the fucking Klan or something!

We better wake the fuck up and take a lesson from our Chinese and Indian "friends" because the lesson is they don't want you around oh sure they'll be happy to take YOUR money stupid gringo, but they sure as hell don't want their money going to buy your products! hear that giant sucking sound? That is less than $1 out of every 4 that leaves the country EVER coming back!

So while I have no doubt they'll iron out the bugs and make a chip that does what they want it to if we don't wake the fuck up and get nationalist and I mean TODAY it won't matter because we simply won't have a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out of. The corps have sold us out, we are at 22%! unemployment and rising daily and look up how many of our population is now trapped in the "service industry" aka McJobs.

Our brilliant leaders tell us to pile ever more crushing debt getting ever more degrees (what is it now, that $40k+ BS degree is the new HS diploma?) while the white collar jobs follow the blue overseas, the hypocrisy has to end and we better learn what China and India (who is spending billions building an aerospace industry so they don't have to even buy military gear, sadly one of the last things Americans build that's top notch, from America) have been trying to teach us with their actions which is nationalism = good and globalism = you're fucked raw!

Re:Chinese People's Daily (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463912)

oh sure they'll be happy to take YOUR money stupid gringo, but they sure as hell don't want their money going to buy your products!

I think it's simple economics rather than some devious strategy. Their standard of living is much lower, so their cost of production is much lower, so most of the trade goes one way.

It's like globalization has opened a partition between two halves of a swimming pool filled to different heights, so it's equalizing. You can't expect water to go uphill.

it is Loongson family (4, Informative)

slonik (108174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463224)

The processor family is called Loongson [wikipedia.org] and not "LongSoon" as summary says. But the typo is funny in its own way.

Re:it is Loongson family (1)

delphi125 (544730) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464264)

There'll be a Beowulf Cluster of these along soon!

Wouldn't buy it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463228)

If China has taught the world a lesson, it's that it's companies are more corrupt than American companies.
  -but-
China does have the ability to compete with the rest of the world to lower prices on things.

So you have to ask which is more evil, making the competition have to lower their prices, or making poor quality equipment that has to be replaced annually... or worse kills people.

There are a few things I generally won't buy if I see "made in china"
1) Processed food (due to pet food/baby food/milk recall)
2) Plastic toys for children that still put things in their mouths (due to lead concerns)
3) Electronics that need to last (Kitchen appliances) and have to be safe.

I'm ok with buying chinese computer parts, though I probably wouldn't buy any network processor or cpu processor parts for security reasons. Likewise I probably wouldn't buy any GSM, Bluetooth, WiFi or similar wireless parts or phones because I don't trust the safety.

Most clothing (that isn't tissue-paper thin D: ) from China is just cheaply made from low-thread count materials. You don't have to buy it, and you can even buy better quality stuff that won't rip the second you take it off if you're willing to pay a bit more.

(Yes... I've bought clothing that was so thin before that it ripped the first time I wore it... because it was almost sheer from cheapness.)

Re:Wouldn't buy it (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463668)

The Chinese are no different from any other people. The production rule of "good, fast, cheap: pick two" applies to them just as much as anywhere else. Their cheap is just cheaper than most other places. The US and Japan are all about quality control and just in time production methods, because labor is expensive. In fact, it is SO expensive that we can't even be bothered to send a QC team over there to make sure they are following the instructions. The Chinese, on the other hand, make their products by the ISO container-full. As long as there is oil to power the ships across the Pacific, they will be fine. Oh, wait.

Re:Wouldn't buy it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463772)

The Chinese are no different from any other people.

The idea that we are all the same is as ridiculous as the idea that we are all different; that is, we are all similar, but we are all different.

As long as there is oil to power the ships across the Pacific, they will be fine. Oh, wait.

China has a shitload of land and can do whatever it wants because the people are different and will knuckle under to anything. Witness their damn dam, one of the worst manmade environmental debacles of history. How many people did that displace? China could go into biofuel-from-algae and probably will if big oil loses much power. (Collectively, Big Oil is more powerful than China today, see if they aren't.)

Re:Wouldn't buy it (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464080)

we are all different.

I'm not.

creators; prime directive; disarm those foulcurrs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463282)

including media (now a weapon)

banned? yikes almighty. mynuts(clearly)won; does't play well in peoria.

Q; banned? censored by /.? peoria? what's this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463328)

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Answered by: CmdrTaco
Last Modified: 7/02/02

Yay, competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463302)

Greater usage of MIPS will stop Intel/AMD/ARM from getting complacent.

Plus, MIPS is the only assembly instruction set I know, so there's possibly some nostalgia there... :-)

Run IRIX on it (2)

stox (131684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463340)

I wonder how well these chips compare to the R16000's?

Not the only ones (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463350)

The Japanese 10 petaflops-scale K computer in Kobe uses Sparc-compatible cpus from Fujitsu. Sounds like a good idea if you want to build know-how, not just a machine.

Re:Not the only ones (2)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463532)

It also allows you greater flexibility in chip design. The Japanese are still convinced that vector processors are still the way to go. The earth simulator had a lot of Japanese-designed vector CPUs and the K computer is no different, it has 2x as many SIMD units per core as the Intel/AMD CPUs. There are lots of benefits to using the vector CPUs in parallel computing, but the problem is that there is very little demand in the personal/corporate world for them(outside of a few specific applications). By designing your own chips you can incorporate the vector CPUs into your chip, but at a cost, both money and an opportunity cost. The money is quite obvious, designing and fabbing your own chips is not only expensive, it takes a long time. Often times by the time you have designed, verified, and fabbed your chips advances in commodity CPUs often obviate the gains made by using your own chips.

That being said, low-power supercomputing is going to be the way forward as often times the cost of operating the computer dwarfs the initial design and manufacturing costs, especially if you are able to sell your cpus on a large enough scales. By including the vector processor on the CPU(instead of say in the GPU), you have the potential to save massive amounts of power.

Re:Not the only ones (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463706)

Although with Oracle deprecating Sun with all their might, it's hard to say what kind of future SPARC has. Clearly China has seen the same wall I have.

Re:Not the only ones (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464040)

Why would Oracle's acquisition of Sun have anything to do with Fujitsu's SPARC development? Quite a few systems from Sun over the last few years have contained rebadged Fujitsu SPARC64 chips, but Sun is certainly not Fujitsu's only (or even largest) SPARC customer. Oh, and Oracle has extended the UltraSPARC Tx series roadmap beyond the last Sun one by quite a way. They killed Rock, but Rock was a processor with no market segment. The Tx series are still being sold by Oracle and (given their performance with Oracle databases) probably will be for quite a while.

28nm 16 cores is next (3, Informative)

lkcl (517947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463394)

the article has missed out some important information, which is that they are planning two versions of the CPU. the first is a Quad-Core 65nm, and the second is a 16-core 28nm, which will use the same amount of power (about 12-15 watts). hopefully they will also do a Single-Core 28nm which would be under 1 watt, because at 1ghz the SIMD units are so powerful they can do 1080p at 100 frames per second. really, this CPU design is a game-changer. i've been advocating their use for some time - http://lkcl.net/laptop.html [lkcl.net]

Re:28nm 16 cores is next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463618)

Yeah until you actually use it and find all the bugs and other weird problems.

Hacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35463440)

I guess after decades of reverse engineering, stealing, copying, and calling there own, why not? Just like all the rest of the technologies they have stolen over the years to churn out cheap crap...

Re:Hacks (1)

ControlsGeek (156589) | more than 3 years ago | (#35464004)

Learning to make cheap crap is more than halfway to learning to make valuable crap.

Re:Hacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35464156)

I thought genius was 99% inspiration and 1% perspiration?

Just ripping off someone else's design doesn't make you a better engineer. That's why they don't allow cheating in school either.

Where to buy? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463740)

I would like to buy a small (perhaps 1U) server based on these chips if such a thing exists...

why not Alpha cpu ? (1)

AchiestDragon (971685) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463916)

they use the MIPS based, as its derived from a GPL version of the MIPS technology

so they can produce it without patent problems

but DEC made the Alpha CPU GPL before DEC got eaten by compaq so that should be free to use also

infact some of the alpha tec like programable microcode was incoparated into the p4 released after that

the Alpha cpu would be a better architecture to base a system around

other than i have not seen a free download softcore for the Alpha cpu yet (although not looked for some time )

Re:why not Alpha cpu ? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35463964)

the Alpha cpu would be a better architecture to base a system around

[citation needed]. My understanding of the reason for the demise of the AXP is that it didn't scale, although it did teach us a lot of important lessons we needed to learn to make processors that could be faster. We ended up with processors from AMD that use its bus and execute an instruction set someone cares about.

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