May 9, 2022
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Russian processors do not give up: “Baikal” and “Elbrus” are moving to “Plan B”

Russian processors do not give up:

Photo: Donat Sorokin/TASS

Another wave of anti-Russian sanctions from the UK has covered domestic processor developers – the list published on May 4 includes MCST JSC, which produces Elbrus processors, as well as Baikal Electronics JSC, which produces Baikal processors. Their assets were frozen, the enterprises of the Kingdom were forbidden to provide them with technological and financial services. Among the prohibitive measures is a restriction on the use of the British ARM architecture. Now they have to use counterfeit or look for a replacement.

The ban on the use of ARM is very sensitive for Baikal Electronics, which operates under a license with this architecture. Now, they may have to use the open ones – RISC-V, MIPS or VLIW.

Earlier, manufacturers of Russian processors, including MCST, Baikal Electronics, STC Module, STC Elvis, have already fallen under US sanctions, according to which foreign partners are required to coordinate with the Bureau of Industry and Security of the US Department of Commerce the sale of their own technological products to Russian enterprises. .

As explains Chairman of the Board of the Digital Economy Development Fund German Klimenkoto call the processors “Elbrus” and Baikal Russian could be a stretch.

— A rather peculiar picture has developed here, quite common in the production of equipment: we take parts in China, we make something out of them at a factory in China, we bring them to Russia, and then pass it off as domestic products – as a result of the import substitution policy. The state in this direction, to put it mildly, was mistaken. The sphere of high technologies is still different from the agricultural sector, where imported seed material is used to grow some products. There you can really refuse to import, even if you lose in quantity. We will grow less products, but it will definitely be our own. In IT, this cannot be achieved.

“SP”: – So, the wishful thinking was presented as reality?

– More or less like this. When we came under sanctions a few years ago, officials needed to be told that we have something of our own. Now we got what we got. Not every high-ranking official will risk presenting the real picture to the first person. It turns out that before we misled the public. Maybe it’s not too appropriate to talk about it now, but anyway, one day it will have to be said.

“SP”: – Are there any options for getting out of the situation?

– I see no other way to turn to China for help. The Celestial Empire is still considered our ally, a strategic partner.

Three years ago, when Huawei came under sanctions, they came to Russia and offered the cooperation they needed. They were negotiating with the Elbrus developer. They offered their servers. But ours refused because of the sudden pride that arose – they say, we have our own. Their servers may not be as powerful, but built on their own technologies, which serve several centers with a total number of several thousand people.

Now, I must say, the same Huawei is not eager to cooperate with us, for fear of falling under secondary sanctions. So, you can not underestimate the capabilities of a partner and overestimate your own.

“SP”: – But do we produce something?

– They do it on old components, this is not much, but for defense needs it is quite enough. In the situation with the processors, we miscalculated.

I think it was worth emphasizing, first of all, where we are strong – programming. For example, now Kaspersky is threatened with sanctions, all kinds of punishments, but everyone understands that in practice it will be extremely difficult to do this, because a huge layer of computers in the world are tied to it.

“SP”: – What fate can expect “Elbrus” and Baikal?

– Perhaps everything will be according to the old tradition – they will pretend that they are doing something. Here we can recall the fate of the once widely advertised national search engine “Sputnik” and the browser of the same name. When a lot of money poured in, they talked a lot about him, but then he quietly died.

“SP”: – Will the break in cooperation with our companies be sensitive for foreign partners?

– Given their existing economic volumes, our market is not very significant.

However, according to Oleg Krivokurtsev, Development Director of Promobot (deals with the development of robotics)with the development of processors, things are not so sad.

– Of course, cooperation with the British side was important for MCST and Baikal Electronics, and the imposed sanctions will create problems for them. But I know for sure that these projects will not be curtailed. The companies-creators had a “plan B” in case of a similar situation. Of course, now the deadlines for the implementation of projects will be somewhat shifted, but I assure you they will not be abandoned.

“SP”: – How much will the deadlines shift?

– About a year. I think that after this time they will present the results of their work to the public.

“SP”: – Is the topic of technological sovereignty now being actively discussed in the press and the expert community? How possible is such autarky in the field of high technologies?

– Absolutely impossible. Moreover, no country can provide it. High technologies are developing so rapidly because there is an exchange of ideas, skills, knowledge of specialists from all over the world. This is not just communication, but also the exchange of scientific schools and approaches. Of course, we will adopt experience, reproduce something and create our own. But Russia will definitely not fence itself off from the world in this area, and it is definitely impossible to isolate us.

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