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Hong Kong chipmaker takes on Wintel via embedded Linux

Jan 30, 2004 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive

A company based in Hong Kong reports growing sales of a $15-$30 CPU chip that, in conjunction with embedded Linux, it believes can help replace costly Wintel systems in China, the world's second-largest PC market. For now, Culturecom Holdings will target its inexpensive V-Dragon chip at embedded Linux devices and special-purpose computers, but hopes one day to challenge Wintel in the Chinese… general purpose computing market.

According to an article at Reuters, Culturecom expects to sell between 1.5 and 2 million of its IBM-made V-Dragon chips this year. It has taken orders for a million V-Dragon chips from Orient Semiconductor Electronics, which will use them in home entertainment centers. And, China's Datang Telecom & Tech Co has ordered 300,000 of the chips, for use in special-purpose accounting system computers.

The V-Dragon chip has also been used in PKU's “Peking University e-Learner,” an e-book platform used in 1,200 Peking schools. According to Culturecom, the e-Learner device can store four to eight million Chinese characters on its 16MB flash memory card, enough for “the total text volume of all subjects in one academic year.”

Later, Culturecom hopes the chips will see use in more general-purpose computing devices. “It can be used for PCs, but for us to find success… for the first two years we are going after the specialized device market,” said Benjamin Lau, senior vice president and corporate strategist at Culturecom, as quoted by Reuters.

The V-Dragon chip is produced by IBM, according to Reuters, while a PC Magazine article by John C. Dvorak earlier surmised it had been designed by Transmeta. One unique feature of the chip appears to be embedded support for Chinese characters, both Simplified and Traditional.

Another Chinese chip vendor, BLX, recently announced a partnership with AMD on a Computing Client Development Center in Beijing, which will design thin client workstations based on embedded Linux.

According to Reuters, China is now the world's number two PC market, with 13.3 million units sold last year, close to 90% of which were based on Wintel.

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