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by Mike Zazaian September 13, 2006 - 11:39am, 5 Comments

Godson-2 Chip

A Chinese computer company hopes to sell low-cost PCs to schools and government agencies, but allegations of ripped-off processor designs might slow the effort.

Chinese-based ZhongKe Menglan Electronics Technology Co. will produce several thousand low-cost PCs to distribute to schools and local governments. The PCs, which will intially sell for $150 to $175, will run on Linux and include 256Mb of RAM, a 40 or 60GB hard drive, and a Godson-2 CPU clocked between 800Mhz and 1Ghz. If initial sales of the product are successful ZhongKe will begin mass production of the units for sale at around 125 US dollars.

Godson-2 CPUHowever, the Godson-2 CPU included in the PCs have come under scrutiny as of late. BLX IC Design Corp., producer of the Godson-2, produced its first working prototype in 2005. The chip clocked at 500Mhz, and BLX at the time claimed the Godson’s performance rivalled that of higher-clocked Pentium III CPUs. However, the chip’s architecture has gotten attention around the industry for its similarities to the MIPS chip from MIPS Technologies Inc. According to market research group In-Stat, the Godson-2 is about 95-percent compatible with the MIPS R10000, which was introduced in 1995. BLX claims that similarities between the Godson and MIPS are strictly coincidental.

Previous versions of the Godson chip in the Godson-1 series were predominantly used in Routers and DVD players because of the chip’s lower performance. The new 64bit architecture of the Godson-2, however, makes it suitable for more heavy duty applications such as ZhongKe’s PCs and a Chinese supercomputer in 2008.

ZhongKe currently has 2000 orders for its cheap PCs from local schools, and deals that would send as many 10,000 of the computers to rural areas around Southeast Asia are currently under negotiation.

[via EE Times]