Although the Chinese Loongson CPU will debut in one of the world's fastest supercomputers, but that doesn't mean it's ready for prime time, says its lead architect. Weiwu Hu, head of the Loongson design team said that it will be twenty years before China is able to sell its chips to the US "just like we are selling clothes and shoes."
So far Loongson chip has only appeared in low-powered netbooks and set-top boxes. Later this year a third generation of the processor is to debut in a petaflop-scale supercomputer. The chip's native instruction set is MIPS-based, which hasn't been used for desktop computers or even supercomputers for years, but it can emulate x86.
Hu said that it will take another decade before China-made chips meet the needs of the domestic market. Part of the problem is that chip fabs have cost structures that seem to depend primarily on the level of technical sophistication.
However Hu thinks that if China grows towards an information-based economy it could happen.