back to article China's ISCAS to build 2,000 RISC-V laptops by the end of 2022 as nation seeks to cut reliance on Arm, Intel chips

The Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISCAS) is working to build 2,000 laptops using the free and open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture by the end of next year, as the nation looks to reduce its reliance on foreign technology giants like Arm and Intel. First developed at the University of …

  1. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

    I'm surprised that they aren't going into servers with RISC-V before laptops.

    The issues of compatibility and user reticence are less for servers than for personal computers.

    1. thames

      I suspect the intention is to supply these laptops to developers who can then work on porting, testing, and optimizing software for RISC-V. It's much easier to work on stuff on your own PC than on a server via SSH.

      Once they've got those issues sorted out, then they could worry about using the RISC-V CPUs in smart phones, tablets, and embedded devices. Servers, desktops, and commercial laptops could then follow.

      I've got a Raspberry Pi 3 and 4 which I use to test software. During lockdown this past winter my PC died and I used the Pi 4 as a desktop temporarily for a day until I could get a new part to fix the PC. Running Ubuntu I found it to be quite usable. A RISC-V chip that could match whatever ARM chip is in the Pi 4 would be viable in a low end laptop, provided they had a comparable graphics chip to go with it.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Its much easier to port and test software on a VM running on a remote server.

        Making 2000 laptops by the end of some arbitrary astronomical Earth position sounds more like one of those political "we will have x000 tests by the end of Y" sort of statements.

        Sad that a mighty communist nation should be so susceptible to grandiose political stunts that so often derail actual technical progress.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          You can mix grandiose political stunts and actual technical progress by developing a program to land a man on the moon within 7 years. That's about as grandiose and as technical as possible in the 1960s.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            But this isn't grandiose enough. They aren't setting a target of making a new chip or a fab - they are making a small number of prototypes, probably by hand.

            It's like imploring NASA to build another 10,000tons of Saturn V in the run up to Apollo 11 launch

  2. PhilipN Silver badge

    Trump's trade war

    China's exports to the USA are booming.

    And China forced to seek parity in IT in 5 years, or 2, instead of 25, or never.

    Way to go, Donnie!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Trump's trade war

      I'm not sure why a Russian asset in the Whitehouse did so much to advance Chinese technical and military capabilities.

      Either the conspiracy goes much deeper, or everybody in all governments at all levels are incompetent.

    2. Logiker72


      Wake me up when they stop copying Android and Linux. And finally have some original ideas of their own.

  3. ClarkMills

    I'll buy one.

    Coming from Linux this core is the next logical step.

    And this one won't come with the US backdoors built in... ;)

    1. Mark Exclamation

      Re: I'll buy one.

      You are correct about no US backdoors built in, but...........

    2. Logiker72

      Re: I'll buy one.

      Where does Linux and Android come from, again ?

  4. ClarkMills

    Interesting thought...

    Let's assume that both the US and China backdoor their implementations. So long as the processors pass the qualification tests, running the same code the outputs should be the same. We could run dual core in parallel an if there's any discrepancy in logic a fault condition can be flagged. It's improbable that both backdoors or magic packets will be the same...

    1. Logiker72

      Re: Interesting thought...

      Did it ever occur to you that there are very nice doors hidden in plain sight ?

      It even worked very crudely in OpenSSL for a decade or so.

      In Yacc they found a bug after 20 years.

  5. bazza Silver badge

    Closed Source

    Where this won't help is with running closed source software that they also consider essential. It's no good having a domestic IT ecosystem where every machine is binary incompatible with the rest of the world's if you sometimes need to run their software (eg CAD, or silicon design tools, big important software for big important jobs).

    So they can't achieve full independence without somehow reimplementing the software tools they will still rely on which cannot be got simply by cloning a repo.

    1. Logiker72

      Re: Closed Source

      They will always be able to purchase a few thousand high end CAE workstations by unofficial means.

      But they have a hard time flooding the planet with hundreds of millions of Wintel laptops while Uncle embargoes them.

      So they look for one more replacement, after the Loongson thing.

  6. Elledan

    Sponsored content?

    Between OpenRISC, OpenSPARC and OpenPOWER the number of open and royalty-free ISAs is pretty large. OpenRISC even comes with a fully open source reference CPU design, unlike RISC-V.

    This article read more like a sponsored piece by SiFive and other RISC-V parties with vested commercial interests.

    1. Logiker72

      Re: Sponsored content?

      You forgot their MIPS variant Loongson. I wonder why they dont push this horse, as this is their local champion ?

  7. for1

    Thank you God for this wonderful effort. Glad to see something that will hopefully bless everybody irrespective of nationality

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