Tianhua GX-1C

Last updated
Tianhua GX-1C
Manufacturer Sinomanic
Type Subnotebook
Media hard disk IDE 40GB
Operating system Linux, Future Alpha
CPU Loongson 1 (Longxin)
Memory SDRAM 128MB MCom
DisplayLCD 8.4in diagonal, 1280x1024/24
Input Keyboard
Connectivity Ethernet 10/100M, DSL modem

The Sinomanic Tianhua GX-1C is a specially tailored subnotebook for primary and secondary school students in the People's Republic of China. It uses the Loongson I (Longxin) CPU. The device is designed for use as an educational aid and to introduce young students to computers.

Subnotebook

A subnotebook is a class of laptop computers that are smaller and lighter than a typical notebook.

Loongson is a family of general-purpose MIPS64 CPUs developed at the Institute of Computing Technology (ICT), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in China. The chief architect is Professor Hu Weiwu. It was formerly called Godson.

Contents

History

Sichuan-based Sinomanic Co., Ltd., launched four models of low-cost personal computers in 2006. Sinomanic is the second maker of Loongson-based personal computers in mainland China. The firm has announced a sales target of 500,000 to 1 million units for their Tianhua GX-1C model. The GX-1C uses a Loongson I (Longxin) CPU similar to that used in the commercially distributed Longmeng Municator from a Chinese startup named Yellow Sheep River. Loongson (Longxin) translates as "Dragon Chip".

Sichuan Province

Sichuan is a landlocked province in Southwest China occupying most of the Sichuan Basin and the easternmost part of the Tibetan Plateau between the Jinsha River on the west, the Daba Mountains in the north, and the Yungui Plateau to the south. Sichuan's capital city is Chengdu. The population of Sichuan stands at 81 million.

Sinomanic has created four different models for distribution to specific markets. The Tianhua GX-1 and Tianhua GX-1C are marketed for education. The Tian Yan GX-2 is a rural computer marketed for farmers, Tian Yan is designed to be used with a television instead of a standard computer monitor, much like the Commodore 64 and Amiga. the operating system for the Tian Yan is tailored for use with a television display. The Tianlong GX-3 is a more robust machine marketed for business. The Tiansheng GX-4 with slightly less memory and processor speeds that vary between 400 MHz and 600 MHz marketed for multimedia users. All desktop units support VGA and television video output.

Television Telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images

Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in colour, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

Commodore 64 8-bit home computer introduced in 1982

The Commodore 64, also known as the C64 or the CBM 64, is an 8-bit home computer introduced in January 1982 by Commodore International. It has been listed in the Guinness World Records as the highest-selling single computer model of all time, with independent estimates placing the number sold between 10 and 17 million units. Volume production started in early 1982, marketing in August for US$595. Preceded by the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore PET, the C64 took its name from its 64 kilobytes(65,536 bytes) of RAM. With support for multicolor sprites and a custom chip for waveform generation, the C64 could create superior visuals and audio compared to systems without such custom hardware.

Amiga Family of personal computers sold by Commodore

The Amiga is a family of personal computers introduced by Commodore in 1985. The original model was part of a wave of 16- and 32-bit computers that featured 256 KB or more of RAM, mouse-based GUIs, and significantly improved graphics and audio over 8-bit systems. This wave included the Atari ST—released the same year—Apple's Macintosh, and later the Apple IIGS. Based on the Motorola 68000 microprocessor, the Amiga differed from its contemporaries through the inclusion of custom hardware to accelerate graphics and sound, including sprites and a blitter, and a pre-emptive multitasking operating system called AmigaOS.

Sinomanic model comparison table

Prices of desktop models do not include displays.

ModelNamePriceCPUMemoryStorageMarket
GX-1CTianhua¥1,998 yuan400 MHz128MB SDRAM40GBeducation
GX-1Tianhua¥1,998400 MHz128MB DDR60GBeducation
GX-2Tian Yan¥988400 MHz128MB DDR1G SD rural
GX-3Tianlong¥2,998*600 MHz256MB DDR60GBbusiness
GX-4Tiansheng¥1,398*400 MHz128MB DDR60GBmultimedia

Technology

Hardware GX-1C

The reference hardware specifications as of 28 October 2006 are:

Computer hardware physical components of a computer

Computer hardware includes the physical, tangible parts or components of a computer, such as the cabinet, central processing unit, monitor, keyboard, computer data storage, graphics card, sound card, speakers and motherboard. By contrast, software is instructions that can be stored and run by hardware. Hardware is so-termed because it is "hard" or rigid with respect to changes or modifications; whereas software is "soft" because it is easy to update or change. Intermediate between software and hardware is "firmware", which is software that is strongly coupled to the particular hardware of a computer system and thus the most difficult to change but also among the most stable with respect to consistency of interface. The progression from levels of "hardness" to "softness" in computer systems parallels a progression of layers of abstraction in computing.

The clock rate typically refers to the frequency at which the clock circuit of a processor can generate pulses, which are used to synchronize the operations of its components, and is used as an indicator of the processor's speed. It is measured in clock cycles per second or its equivalent, the SI unit hertz (Hz). The clock rate of the first generation of computers was measured in hertz or kilohertz (kHz), the first personal computers (PCs) to arrive throughout the 1970s and 1980s had clock rates measured in megahertz (MHz), and in the 21st century the speed of modern CPUs is commonly advertised in gigahertz (GHz). This metric is most useful when comparing processors within the same family, holding constant other features that may affect performance. Video card and CPU manufacturers commonly select their highest performing units from a manufacturing batch and set their maximum clock rate higher, fetching a higher price.

Hard disk drive Data storage device

A hard disk drive (HDD), hard disk, hard drive, or fixed disk is an electro-mechanical data storage device that uses magnetic storage to store and retrieve digital information using one or more rigid rapidly rotating disks (platters) coated with magnetic material. The platters are paired with magnetic heads, usually arranged on a moving actuator arm, which read and write data to the platter surfaces. Data is accessed in a random-access manner, meaning that individual blocks of data can be stored or retrieved in any order and not only sequentially. HDDs are a type of non-volatile storage, retaining stored data even when powered off.

IT8212

The IT8212, or more correctly the IT8212F, is a low-end Parallel ATA controller designed by ITE Tech. Depending on the implemented BIOS and configuration the IT8212F functions in either a RAID or an ATAPI mode, supporting up to four devices using dual channels. The raid mode only supports IDE Hard Disk Drives and includes RAID 0, RAID 1, Raid 0+1 and JBOD, along with a "normal" mode that essentially acts as a standard Hard Disk controller. Optical disk drives such as CD-ROM and DVD drives are supported by the ATAPI mode, which also supports Hard Disk Drives at the loss of all RAID functions. RAID functions are implemented by an embedded microprocessor, thus is not a so-called "Soft raid" controller.

Software

According to a translated FAQ on the Sinomanic website and an article on Sanhaostreet.com, Sinomanic technicians were having trouble getting Loongson's proprietary RISC instruction sets to work with Debian Linux and Windows CE. However, the use of the MIPS architecture allowed them to correct many of their compatibility issues. [1]

Reduced instruction set computer Computer whose instruction set architecture allows it to have fewer cycles per instruction than a complex instruction set computer

A reduced instruction set computer, or RISC, is one whose instruction set architecture (ISA) allows it to have fewer cycles per instruction (CPI) than a complex instruction set computer (CISC). Various suggestions have been made regarding a precise definition of RISC, but the general concept is that such a computer has a small set of simple and general instructions, rather than a large set of complex and specialized instructions. Another common RISC trait is their load/store architecture, in which memory is accessed through specific instructions rather than as a part of most instructions.

MIPS is a reduced instruction set computer (RISC) instruction set architecture (ISA) developed by MIPS Computer Systems, now MIPS Technologies, based in the United States.

Versions of Debian Linux and Windows CE will be available for the units that ship initially. But because these operating systems cannot be optimized for Loongson's unique RISC instruction set, Sinomanic has continued development on their own second generation microkernel operating system codenamed Future Alpha. Future Alpha has apparently been customized for compatibility with the 32-bit Loongson I (Longxin) processor. And Sinomanic recently tested an updated version of Future Alpha, for the 64-bit Loongson II microprocessor. The company said that the 64-bit version of their Future Alpha operating system had successfully passed testing on January 19, 2007. [2] [3]

In a press release dated 3 March 2007, Sinomanic demonstrated a custom version of Debian Linux running on the Tian Yan GX-2 their rural computer. The unit appeared to be using GNOME as its graphical user interface. Software applications shown were: the Mozilla Firefox browser, an unnamed text editor, Pidgin instant messenger, a PDF reader, and the Evolution email client. [4]

See also

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References