Russia is left without Baikal server processors. Development of new models under threat

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Baikal Electronics has canceled the production and sale of Baikal-S server CPUs after breaking off relations with Taiwanese TSMC. The consequence of this may be the cessation of the development of the second generation of these chips, for which the Ministry of Industry and Trade has allocated billions of rubles. The Russian IT industry does not believe in a bright future for Russian chips and relies on the parallel import of processors from American companies AMD and Intel.

Failure with server CPUs

Baikal Electronics, the developer of the Baikal series processors, has canceled the production and sale of Baikal-S server processors, Kommersant writes, citing unnamed sources in the Russian microelectronics market. The reason for this was the refusal of the Taiwanese company TSMC to conclude a contract for their production.

TSMC is the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer. Before the start of the special operation in Ukraine, it was this company that produced domestic processors Baikal and Elbrus. The conveyor for their production stopped on February 27, 2022 and has not resumed work since then.

In Russia, the production of modern “Baikal” and “Elbrus”, capable of competing with foreign counterparts, is physically impossible. There is not a single plant in the country that has mastered relatively relevant technical processes. The Mikron company, which calls itself the “chipmaker No. 1 in Russia”, for June 2022 could provide a maximum of 65-nanometer production. On the world stage, it was relevant about 20 years ago. According to the plan of the authorities, 28-nanometer production will appear in Russia, which is also far from the most modern, but only by 2030.


Import substitution of Intel and AMD server processors may not happen

According to the publication’s sources, Baikal Electronics is currently experiencing problems not only with Baikal-S. The company also cannot get custom-made copies of Baikal-M processors – they cannot enter the territory of Russia. “The participants of the recent summit of design centers spoke about this: problems with access to production facilities and foreign IP make supplies unreliable and it is too risky to lay such a processor in the development of new computers,” the source said.

Grandiose plans collapsed

Baikal Electronics had high hopes for the Russian server processor market, as indicated, among other things, by the road company until 2025, published in the summer of 2021. It says that Baikal Electronics wanted to start capturing the market with the release of Baikal -S and then start producing other processors. The company’s plans included the release of 300 thousand processors by the end of 2022 at the facilities of TSMC. By 2025, the volume of production was planned to be increased to 600 thousand units.

Baikal-S is a 48-core server processor, the first batch of which, as CNews reported, arrived in Russia at the end of October 2021. The CPU was produced according to 16-nanometer standards, the most modern for Russian processors at the time of publication of the material. Inside it has ARM Cortex-A75 cores, six channels of DDR4-3200 MHz memory (up to 768 GB per socket, 128 GB per channel), as well as 64 KB L1 cache, 512 KB L2 cache per core, 2 MB L3 cache per cluster, and L4 32 MB.

The peak clock frequency of Baikal-S is 2.2 GHz, power consumption is at the level of 120 W, and the operating temperature range is from 0 to 70 degrees Celsius. Performance on the standard Linpack supercomputing test is declared at 358 Gflops.

Everything went to waste

According to Kommersant, some large customers, including Sberbank, actively showed interest in Baikal-S even at the stage of the release of the first batch. “Sberbank planned to switch to Baikal-S if the state obliges to buy products exclusively on Russian processors. Now, obviously, there will be no servers on these processors in Russia,” the source said. The full list of enterprises interested in switching to Baikal-S is not disclosed.

According to market participants, what happened with Baikal-S could radically affect the development of the second generation of this processor. The CPU was tentatively named Baikal-S2. For its development, Baikal Electronics received a subsidy from the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the amount of 5.64 billion rubles.

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Market representatives believe that the development of Baikal-S2 may be cancelled. It is known that the release of the first batch of Baikal-S2 before the events in Ukraine and anti-Russian sanctions was tentatively scheduled for 2025.

The market does not believe in Russian processors

The domestic IT sector has almost lost faith in Russian processors after TSMC refused to release them. For example, the head of the Promobit company (produces Bitblaze servers and storage systems on Elbrus processors) Maxim Koposov believes that the cancellation of the server Baikal-S in the near future will lead to the dominance of AMD and Intel processors, as well as Chinese vendors, on the Russian market. “First of all, the world’s most mass-produced Intel and AMD processors, imported through parallel import channels, but also based on Chinese processors,” he told CNews. – And Russian processor developers will face a choice – to reduce the technical characteristics of their developments in order to ensure the technological possibility of production at Russian factories. Or turn into companies that sell their developments to foreign partners in the form of intellectual property for the subsequent production of processors based on these developments by foreign partners in foreign factories for subsequent sale on the world market.

Recall that AMD and Intel left the Russian market.

Founder of SPC “Elvis” Yaroslav Petrichkovich I am sure that the cancellation of the production of Baikal-S processors will have almost no effect on sales of computer equipment in Russia due to the small number of copies of this CPU produced. “However, many companies have invested in projects based on these chips, a new market of domestic trusted solutions has been forming, and now there are certain problems with this,” he told Kommersant.

Comment “Baikal Electronics”

After the publication of the material, the editors of CNews received an official comment from Baikal Electronics. It is presented without modification.

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“Despite the fact that the sanctions have made their own adjustments to the implementation of our product strategy, now all forces are thrown into resolving the issue of organizing production,” CNews said. Andrey Evdokimov, General Director of Baikal Electronics. – We are considering all options, including moving to another factory both abroad and within the country. But we are not talking about any freezing of current and new projects. Work on new projects continues according to the planned schedule, including Baikal-S2 and Baikal-L, the development of which takes from one and a half to three years.

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