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posted by hubie on Tuesday May 10 2022, @03:01PM   Printer-friendly
from the tuck-my-worries-underneath-my-ARM dept.

UK sanctions Russian microprocessor makers, banning them from ARM:

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.

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10 2022, @03:46PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10 2022, @03:46PM (#1243819)

    What are the real implications of this? Speaking out of ignorance and nativity, I think it doesn't really accomplish that much?

    1. Baikai and MCST are banned from ARM, meaning they no longer have legal permission to do anything with them.
    2. Russia doesn't care about about British laws, especially as they conflict with national security, so authorizes Baikai and MCST to continue to work with ARM.
    3. Baikai and MCST continue to produce chips from the existing designs they already have.

    So much of society is built on the assumption that society rules are valid, but once they aren't (e.g. there is war), then those assumptions break down. So really, what are the actual implications of this ban?

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Opportunist on Tuesday May 10 2022, @03:59PM (1 child)

    by Opportunist (5545) on Tuesday May 10 2022, @03:59PM (#1243826)

    it may mean a quid-pro-quo, i.e. you don't respect our patents, so we don't have to respect yours anymore either.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11 2022, @05:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11 2022, @05:15PM (#1244105)

      you don't respect our patents, so we don't have to respect yours anymore either

      Well, that implies that Russia has valuable patents the rest of the world needs. Which also implies they aren't just a consumer of information, they have the minds and means to contribute their own information.

      We aren't seeing "the end of Russian microprocessor makers", what we're looking at is Russia "forking microprocessor design". Time may show this fork to be dead end. Or maybe change for the better.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10 2022, @04:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10 2022, @04:14PM (#1243837)

    As pointed out in the "Continues" section, Baikai and MCST don't make the chips themselves, they use foreign foundaries, which are most likely not going to keep making them while the sanctions are in place. The in-house capabilities they have are for much less capable chips and that they are expected to get up to 2006-level technology by 2030. So this is a big deal for them.