December 8, 2023

PBX Science

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ARM “cuts off supply” to Russian chip manufacturers

3 min read

ARM “cuts off supply” to Russian chip manufacturers


ARM “cuts off supply” to Russian chip manufacturers

On May 5,  according to the Russian “Kommersant” report, the United Kingdom has recently added the two major Russian processor manufacturers MCST and Baikal Electronics to the sanctions list.

In addition to freezing their assets, the United Kingdom The provision of technical services by enterprises will also be strictly regulated.

The move means that Russian chip design companies may not be able to use ARM‘s IP to design processors.


ARM "cuts off supply" to Russian chip manufacturers


It should be pointed out that even if ARM cannot continue to provide IP authorization to chip design companies such as MCST and Baikal Electronics in Russia, the IP that has been authorized before will not be affected. That said, the main ones affected are those ARM IPs that haven’t been licensed yet.


Experts say the move will force developers to find a sanction-free processor architecture IP licensee, or switch to open architectures such as RISC-V, MIPS, etc., or the development plan for new processors will be forced abort.


Kommersant commentators said that replacing the processor architecture, which would require redesigning the entire processor, is expected to take at least two to three years, and would require up to 1 billion rubles of R&D spending.


In addition, because the U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed sanctions on Russia before, the embargo includes technologies and products including semiconductors, computers, telecommunications, information security equipment, lasers and sensors.

Since then, the EU and other relevant countries and regions have carried out follow-up sanctions. This has also caused wafer foundries such as Intel, TSMC, and Samsung to stop providing foundry services to Russian-related chip design companies.


For example, the Russian self-developed processor designer Baikal Electronics, which used to design chips based on the MIPS instruction set (Baikal-T series), has turned to the ARM architecture in recent years.

Its Baikal-M, Baikal-S, Baikal-L The series are all processor chips based on the ARM architecture, and are mainly handed over to TSMC for foundry.


However, affected by the U.S. ban, Baikal Electronics’ processors are currently unable to be foundry at TSMC.


The source said that Baikal Electronics produces its processors under the IP license of ARM in the UK, and the design and production licenses for all processors below the 16nm process are still available.

But for the processors under development (Baikal-M2, Baikal-L, Baikal-S2), the inability to obtain new IP licenses, coupled with the inability of foundries outside Russia to provide manufacturing services for them, also makes its chips Manufacturing is blocked.


Although there are two integrated circuit manufacturers in Russia: Микрон (Mikron) and Ангстрем, but their technology is relatively backward.

Микрон can only provide 65-250 nanometer process technology, and Ангстрем (bankrupt and reorganized in 2019) has only one 8-inch fab, which can provide 90-250 nanometer process technology.

It mainly provides military, aerospace and industrial products. Moreover, Mikron has also been placed on the sanctions list by the U.S. Treasury Department.


Although Russia plans to invest about 3.19 trillion rubles (about 38.43 billion US dollars) by 2030 in order to develop local semiconductor manufacturing recently, it hopes to mass-produce the localized 90nm process by the end of 2022 and the localized 28nm process by the end of 2030.


However, under the joint sanctions of Europe and the United States, it will undoubtedly be an extremely difficult and long-term process to achieve this goal.


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