from the tuck-my-worries-underneath-my-ARM dept.
The UK government added 63 Russian entities to its sanction list on Wednesday [04 May]. Among them are Baikal Electronics and MCST (Moscow Center of SPARC Technologies), the two most important chip makers in Russia.
The two sanctioned entities will now be denied access to the ARM architecture since Arm Ltd., the licensee, is based in Cambridge, England, and will have to comply with the sanctions.
[...] The two firms are considered vital for Russia's technological independence efforts, as they are expected to step up and cover the shortages created by the lack of processors made by Western chip-makers such as Intel and AMD.
[...] While these processors [the most advanced processors Baikai and MCST currently supply], and the much worse mid-tier and low-tier chips that carry the Baikal and MCST sticker, don't feature impressive performance, they could keep some vital parts of the Russian IT section going during shortages.
Although Russia has eased licensing regulations on other sanctioned items, such as software, that will most likely not happen here.
[...] However, it is important to remember that Baikal and MCST processors are made in foreign foundries, like Samsung's and TSMC's, and those two wouldn't infringe Arm's licensing rules and international law to facilitate Russian interests.
Baikal, which holds a valid license to produce at 16nm, only has a design license for its upcoming models, not manufacturing, so the only solution is to take the production domestically and ignore the rules.
[...] The Russian government has already approved an investment of 3.19 trillion rubles (38.2 billion USD) to counteract this in April 2022, but boosting local production will take many years. In the most optimistic scenarios, Russian foundries will be able to produce 28nm chips by 2030.
Twitter user Fritzchens Fritz has managed to obtain a sample of Baikal Electronics' 48-core BE-S1000 server-grade system-on-chip (SoC) and throw it under an infrared microscope to reveal its internals. In addition, some benchmark results of the SoC have surfaced.
Baikal Electronics has developed several system-on-chips for different devices to replace x86 processors from PCs and various compute appliances made in Russia. However, the pinnacle of the company's design prowess should have been its BE-S1000 server-grade SoC with 48 Arm Cortex-A75 cores, which the company managed to tape out and produce the first sample using TSMC's 16FFC fabrication technology, but which will never be released commercially due to sanctions against Russia for its invasion in Ukraine.
Also at TechPowerUp.
TSMC Ships First Batch of Baikal BE-M1000 ARM CPUs
UK Sanctions Russian Microprocessor Makers, Banning Them From ARM
BITBLAZE Titan BM15 Arm Linux Laptop Features Russian Baikal-M1 Processor
Former Co-Owner of Russia's Baikal Microelectronics Goes Bankrupt
With sanctions against Russia starting to bite, the Kremlin is mulling ways to keep businesses and the government running. The latest is a creative twist on state asset seizures, only instead of the government taking over an oil refinery, for example, Russia is considering legalizing software piracy.
Russian law already allows for the government to authorize—"without consent of the patent holder"—the use of any intellectual property "in case of emergency related to ensuring the defense and security of the state." The government hasn't taken that step yet, but it may soon, according to a report from Russian business newspaper Kommersant, spotted and translated by Kyle Mitchell, an attorney who specializes in technology law. It's yet another sign of a Cyber Curtain that's increasingly separating Russia from the West.
The plan would create "a compulsory licensing mechanism for software, databases, and technology for integrated microcircuits," the Kommersant said. It would only apply to companies from countries that have imposed sanctions. While the article doesn't name names, many large Western firms—some of which would be likely targets—have drastically scaled back business in Russia. So far, Microsoft has suspended sales of new products and services in Russia, Apple has stopped selling devices, and Samsung has stopped selling both devices and chips.
Presumably, any move by the Kremlin to "seize" IP would exempt Chinese companies, which are reportedly considering how to press their advantage. Smartphone-makers Xiaomi and Honor stand to gain, as do Chinese automakers. Still, any gains aren't guaranteed since doing business in Russia has become riddled with problems, spanning everything from logistics to finance.
Also at TorrentFreak.