Monday, May 9th 2022

Russia Cut-Off From ARM CPU Designs in Tightening Sanctions Landscape

Russia has been dealt yet another blow to its technological capabilities, as countries around the world engage in an economic war against the nation following its invasion of Ukraine back in February. The UK government has recently added two major chip-design Russian companies, Baikal Electronics and MCST (Moscow Center of SPARC Technologies) to its sanctioned entity list, meaning that these companies are no longer able to acquire ARM licensing for its homegrown chips. The move is just another in a series of coordinated (and uncoordinated) sanctions.

According to a note provided by the UK government, the aim of the sanctions is to curb Russia's access to devices that could support its war efforts in Ukraine while propping-up the country's degrading technological infrastructure. This effectively shuts the door for Russia to solicit manufacturing from foundries outside its own territory. And even if Russia elected to manufacture its ARM-based designs in-country, thus skirting sanction-respecting foundries, the country's chip manufacturing is currently thought to only be capable of manufacturing chips at a 90 nm process - which the Western world has moved on from since 2006 already.
Sources: UK Government, via Tom's Hardware
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25 Comments on Russia Cut-Off From ARM CPU Designs in Tightening Sanctions Landscape

#1
zlobby
It sure took them some time. I also wonder how much is imported through proxies?
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#2
DeathtoGnomes
zlobbyIt sure took them some time. I also wonder how much is imported through proxies?
The UK will nitpick specific products to sanction one by one. My magic 8-ball refuses to add to what they should or shouldnt do.
Posted on Reply
#3
Arumio
zlobbyIt sure took them some time. I also wonder how much is imported through proxies?
The news is not entirely accurate - the ban is about the ban on licensing intellectual property.
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#4
RedBear
Weaponising ARM's IP is yet another double edged sword, it will probably push others (meaning especially China) to look harder into alternative solutions unencumbered by patents, like RISC V.
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#5
zlobby
RedBearWeaponising ARM's IP is yet another double edged sword, it will probably push others (meaning especially China) to look harder into alternative solutions unencumbered by patents, like RISC V.
Something makes me think that China at least can produce viable designs even withouth the official IP license. Not quite the case with CCCP.
Posted on Reply
#6
RedBear
zlobbySomething makes me think that China at least can produce viable designs even withouth the official IP license. Not quite the case with CCCP.
The CCCP actually used to produce quite a few viable clones without an official IP license.
Posted on Reply
#7
zlobby
RedBearThe CCCP actually used to produce quite a few viable clones without an official IP license.
Eh, at the time.

While 3nm GAA is surely not needed for military purposes, one can argue that modern weapon systems (or at least tactical ones) are not competitive without a good manufacturing process (node). One that CCCP currently don't have.
Exempli gratia, the now popular Javelins, MANPADS and such rely on imaging and other heavy compute intensive (in realtime nonetheless). AFAIK the only publicly known Russian ATGM is only laser-guided i.e., LoS. Problem here is the guidance electronics. Javelins for example are fire-and-forget after lock is obtained.
Posted on Reply
#8
R-T-B
zlobbyone can argue that modern weapon systems (or at least tactical ones) are not competitive without a good manufacturing process (node).
I don't think you really can. Military and space stuff to my knowledge often uses exceptionally old nodes due to the fact they can be more easily radiation hardened. 65nm+ is the rule, not the exception.
Posted on Reply
#9
zlobby
R-T-BI don't think you really can. Military and space stuff to my knowledge often uses exceptionally old nodes due to the fact they can be more easily radiation hardened. 65nm+ is the rule, not the exception.
I'm more inclined to agree that there is no universal answer. It can swing wildly depending on the weapon and the application. And we are talking about battlefield weapons here.

With SIGINT and others in this line, fast, modern chips make all the difference.
Posted on Reply
#10
Xex360
RedBearWeaponising ARM's IP is yet another double edged sword, it will probably push others (meaning especially China) to look harder into alternative solutions unencumbered by patents, like RISC V.
I'm all for China offering us another way so we won't be dependent on few players, especially not very reliable given that governments can suddenly make stupid policies aimed at ruining everyone's life. We have morons in power.
Posted on Reply
#11
Fluffmeister
It all helps, but now we need the EU to stop funding Putins war.
Posted on Reply
#12
R-T-B
zlobbyI'm more inclined to agree that there is no universal answer. It can swing wildly depending on the weapon and the application. And we are talking about battlefield weapons here.

With SIGINT and others in this line, fast, modern chips make all the difference.
That's probably an acurate take. Not everything in the army enters the stratosphere.
Posted on Reply
#13
Arumio
zlobbyOne that CCCP currently don't have.
"currently", this country has been gone for more than 30 years lol
Posted on Reply
#14
zlobby
Arumio"currently", this country has been gone for more than 30 years lol
Probably right. Claims across the web say Russians don't have anything better than 90nm. And also zero FPGA game, which is kind of critical for radars and most military RF applications.
Posted on Reply
#15
trsttte
RedBearWeaponising ARM's IP is yet another double edged sword, it will probably push others (meaning especially China) to look harder into alternative solutions unencumbered by patents, like RISC V.
Increasing adoption of RISC V would be a good thing, but i don't think China cares either way, they simply ignore any copyright or patent that's not chinese and with the dicy situation with the chinese branch of ARM they already have everything they need to keep going for a long while (they just won't get any new designs).
Posted on Reply
#16
zlobby
trsttteIncreasing adoption of RISC V would be a good thing, but i don't think China cares either way, they simply ignore any copyright or patent that's not chinese and with the dicy situation with the chinese branch of ARM they already have everything they need to keep going for a long while (they just won't get any new designs).
I agree. CCP can choose to copy whatever they need for military purposes. It's not like someone will go and check their entire arsenal.
Posted on Reply
#17
trsttte
zlobbyI agree. CCP can choose to copy whatever they need for military purposes. It's not like someone will go and check their entire arsenal.
It's not just military stuff, they simply do no enforce western copyright or patents, this has been known and demonstrated for years. One of the few things they don't have is competitive semiconductor manufacturing capabilities and still depend on TSMC for a lot of stuff which in turn depends on western tech (even SMIC is also dependent on western tech) so it's a big balancing act of who can supply who and how to work around the sanctions
Posted on Reply
#18
zlobby
trsttteIt's not just military stuff, they simply do no enforce western copyright or patents, this has been known and demonstrated for years. One of the few things they don't have is competitive semiconductor manufacturing capabilities and still depend on TSMC for a lot of stuff which in turn depends on western tech (even SMIC is also dependent on western tech) so it's a big balancing act of who can supply who and how to work around the sanctions
Well, the rest is also true but I was talking exclusively about their military stuff.
It is not like:
- Hey, China! We want to check if your missiles use stolen IP and unlicensed technology!
- OK! Just tell us where you want the missiles delivered, so that you can check them yourselves! :D
Posted on Reply
#19
Arumio
zlobbyProbably right. Claims across the web say Russians don't have anything better than 90nm. And also zero FPGA game, which is kind of critical for radars and most military RF applications.
FYI most of military and automobile industry still use 130nm and 180nm techprocess
Posted on Reply
#20
zlobby
ArumioFYI most of military and automobile industry still use 130nm and 180nm techprocess
Not arguing there as I don't have many verifiable sources. I'd love to read some if you could share, though.
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#22
TheoneandonlyMrK
zlobbyProbably right. Claims across the web say Russians don't have anything better than 90nm. And also zero FPGA game, which is kind of critical for radars and most military RF applications.
Exactly, their Orlan drone, had, as well as a full canon DSLR digital camera glued in had several abused writing chips( obfuscated sources) and that's now , with chips from many top maker's that they noted(in the article), I zoomed in and also faintly viewed the words xilinx Spartan on one, they didn't mention it in the article but I thought wow, that's some useful tech they managed to acquire.
I imagine they'll get what they need from alterative avenues, one's they clearly already have open.

As for military chip's, I am not so sure they're all such big node chip's even space has seen vast improvement in radiation hardened IC technology.
I wouldn't wager, I am not totally sure though, just things like the new cockpit screens, Aesa, gallium, based radar chips etc surely some of the latest kit Has to use the later tech no.
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#23
zlobby
HeavyHemiErm... most of it is now sub 65nm.
www.electronicdesign.com/markets/automotive/article/21174750/electronic-design-intel-to-commit-foundry-capacity-for-chipstarved-auto-industry
Yes, I knew that is the case with automotive, since nobody wants to deal with 50-100W chips and their cooling in the cars.
Case in point - Tesla is a big customer of nvidia's. Many other high-end brands want only the crop of the cream, so people need to actually wait for over 12 months for their new ride. OK, in all fairness other electronic components are also in demand for vehicles, not just chips.
TheoneandonlyMrKExactly, their Orlan drone, had, as well as a full canon DSLR digital camera glued in had several abused writing chips( obfuscated sources) and that's now , with chips from many top maker's that they noted(in the article), I zoomed in and also faintly viewed the words xilinx Spartan on one, they didn't mention it in the article but I thought wow, that's some useful tech they managed to acquire.
I imagine they'll get what they need from alterative avenues, one's they clearly already have open.
Also a Hikvision dome camera! Fookin' hell, mate! :D
Posted on Reply
#24
lemonadesoda
Surely, this is NONE OF THE UK GOVERNMENTS BUSINESS. ARM, or arm as it is now in super cool value adding lower case, now belongs to the Japanese. By allowing ARM to be sold to investors outside of the UK, the UK government has already divested oversight of the company, IMO.
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