In brief: Sanctions against Russia are hitting multiple areas of industry, including its PC makers, who cannot obtain processors designed in the country and made by the likes of TSMC. It’s led to a large decline in the number of supplied PCs and servers based on Russian CPUs this year as the country lacks replacement production facilities.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February led to sanctions against the nation and companies such as Intel and AMD stopping sales of their CPUs. Taiwan also halted exports of high-end chips to Russia, meaning Russian firms that relied on TSMC and others to produce domestically designed chips have been left empty handed.
Kommersant business daily writes that Maksut Shadayev, head of Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, says just 15,000 PCs and 8,000 servers based on Russian Elbrus and Baikal processors were produced this year.
“We would have much more this year if those batches of Russian processors, Elbrus, Baikal, which was ordered and produced, were shipped. Intellectual rights and all documentation are Russian, but, based on topological standards, there are no such production facilities in Russia, and all this was ordered from foreign factories,” said Shadayev.
Taiwan does allow the export of CPUs to Russia and Belarus, but with some major caveats: they must not have a performance of 5 GFLOPS or higher. The Nintendo 3DS, for comparison, has a peak performance rated at 4.8 FP32 GFLOPS. Moreover, the exported chips cannot have an ALU wider than 32 bits, more than 144 pins, a basic gate propagation delay time of fewer than 0.4 nanoseconds, or an external interconnection with a data transfer rate of 2.5 MB/s or over. Plus, their operating frequency must not reach 25 MHz or higher.
“Foreign manufacturers that produce processors based on blueprints of Russian developers refused to fulfill orders in 2022, including shipping already produced chips,” said Shadayev.
Russia had been looking to the Chinese gray market for its chip imports, but around 40% of them were found to be defective. There was also the option of China’s own Loongson CPUs, but the Asian nation has banned their export as China wants them for its own military-industrial complex.