Europeans will help China build open source platform

China's project to build an open computing platform got a boost Saturday as two European companies added their weight to a January agreement between China's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and France's atomic energy authority, the Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique (CEA).

The ambitious project aims to develop a chain of compatible low-cost, high-performance hardware and software platforms based on open-source software and open hardware standards. The platform will link mobile terminals, consumer appliances and PCs with servers, according to a statement from STMicroelectronics NV, one of the two new partners.

STMicroelectronics and Bull added their names to the MOST-CEA agreement in Beijing on Saturday, during a visit by France's President Jacques Chirac to China. The two government bodies first signed the cooperation agreement on Januray 28, during Chinese President Hu Jintao's trip to Paris.

The two companies expect others, from China and elsewhere, will join the project.

Bull sees the move as a way to boost innovation, while STMicroelectronics has higher hopes, describing the project as a way to bridge the digital divide and make PCs more affordable around the world.

The announcement came during a busy weekend for Franco-Chinese relations, in which PC maker Lenovo Group agreed to distribute Bull's servers in China, and Bull announced its participation in a training program for engineers linking researchers at a top French engineering school, the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications, with those at the Chinese University of Tongji.

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