It is time for European microprocessors and FPGAs

CPUs, that is Central Processing Units, are the central microprocessors that make all the real computing work inside modern computers, from desktop ones to smartphones and servers. I only now found out that China is planning a national, unified CPU architecture. This CPU architecture would have to be used for any projects backed with Chinese government money. The reason is obvious: to reduce China’s reliance on foreign technology and products, in a sector as vital today as microelectronics.

Reading that piece, I thought that is time to put online a note I had written to myself in August 2006: suggest a petition for the creation of a really independent European industry for both general computing microprocessors and FPGAs that

  • are new, to get rid of inefficiencies of current architectures

  • are free from patents (search online for “patents stifle innovation” to understand where this part came from)

  • contribute to reduce Europe’s brain drain, lowering the entry barrier (also thanks to the previous point) for European SMEs and start-ups in the microelectronics sector

  • contribute to reduce Europe’s reliance on foreign technology and products

(please read here what FPGAs are and why I think it’s time to bring FPGA design to the masses)

I’ll say myself first that yes, there likely is some naivety in the idea. Then again, if we consider how much Europe is struggling to find a way out of the crisis and the fact that the Chinese are doing something similar, why not try something different?