China’s unveiling of a new high-performance processor chip and operating system highlights their dedication to fostering an open source chip ecosystem. The processor chip, known as Xiangshan, is a cutting-edge RISC-V design that adheres to the popular open source chip design standard. Accompanying the chip is the Aolai operating system.
By embracing open source principles, China aims to support its digital economy and encourage international collaboration in chip development. This departure from the traditional approach of expensive and restricted chip designs, upheld by industry giants like Intel and ARM, empowers consumers to utilize the RISC-V architecture freely. This accessibility enables the customization of chip designs tailored to individual requirements, reducing costs and promoting innovation.
Recognizing its significance, MIT Technology Review has honored RISC-V as one of the pioneering technologies of 2023. The adoption of this open and inclusive chip design philosophy signifies a major step forward in China’s technological advancements.
According to MIT Technology Review, approximately 3,100 members worldwide, including companies and academic institutions, have embraced the new RISC-V design for building chips. The publication anticipates that these chips will become ubiquitous in the coming years.
Yin Hejun, the vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, emphasized the crucial role of processor chips as the foundation of information technology and the digital economy. Drawing parallels to the transformative impact of open source software ecosystems over the past four decades, Yin highlighted examples such as Bluetooth, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and PDF. These technologies, built on open standards with publicly available design specifications, enable seamless functionality across different devices for consumers and manufacturers alike.
Yin expressed the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ strong commitment to developing open source technology ecosystems. In 2018, the academy initiated the China RISC-V Alliance, aiming to facilitate the construction of a robust RISC-V ecosystem. Looking ahead, the academy intends to continue supporting innovations based on RISC-V, fostering international collaboration, and promoting the growth of new industries and applications. These efforts aim to fortify the global chip supply chain and expand the reach of the open source ecosystem.
Vice-Mayor of Beijing, Yu Yingjie, affirmed the growing significance of RISC-V, x86, and ARM as the three foundational pillars of the global chip ecosystem, bringing forth new prospects and possibilities.
Capitalizing on its abundant reserves of human resources, policy support, and capital, the city of Beijing aims to establish a high-quality hub for open source chip production. This hub is envisioned to foster innovation and contribute to the advancement of the global information technology sector, as emphasized by Yu.
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Renowned computer scientist and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Sun Ninghui, highlighted the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ extensive endeavors in developing open source processor chips since 2015. Through numerous breakthroughs, China has solidified its position as a leading force in the realm of open source processors on a global scale.
The notable achievements of the Xiangshan chip and Aolai operating system exemplify China’s unwavering commitment to fortifying the global chip supply chain and cultivating an open source chip ecosystem with far-reaching benefits for the international community, stated Sun Ninghui.