From now on, Russian and Belarussian enterprises can only purchase CPUs from Taiwanese companies that operate at less than 25 MHz and offer the performance of up to 5 GFLOPS. This effectively precludes all modern technology, including microcontrollers for more sophisticated gadgets.
Leading Taiwanese corporations were among the first to discontinue working with Russia after the country launched a full-scale war against Ukraine in late February, owing to sanctions put on exports to Russia by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) formally published its list of high-tech products prohibited from exportation to Russia and Belarus this week, preventing all types of Taiwan-produced high-tech devices as well as tools used to make chips (whether or not they use technologies originated in the United States, United Kingdom, or European Union, which were already restricted) from being exported to the aggressive nation.
Items prohibited from exporting to Russia and Belarus fall under Wassenaar Arrangement Categories 3 to 9, which cover electronics, computers, telecommunications, sensors, lasers, navigation equipment, marine technology, navigation, avionics, jet engines, and a variety of other categories.
Since the agreement was signed by 42 countries in the mid-1990s, the limits on computers and devices may appear dated, but this fact makes them more severe for Russia and Belarus.
Starting today, Russia cannot buy chips that meet one of the following conditions from Taiwanese companies, reports DigiTimes
- Has the performance of 5 GFLOPS. To put it into context, Sony’s PlayStation 2 released in 2000 had a peak performance of around 6.2 FP32 GFLOPS.
- Operates at 25 MHz or higher.
- Has an ALU that is wider than 32 bits.
- Has an external interconnection with a data transfer rate of 2.5 MB/s or over.
- Has more than 144 pins.
- Has a basic gate propagation delay time of fewer than 0.4 nanoseconds.
In addition to being unable to purchase chips from Taiwanese firms, Russian entities will be unable to obtain any chip production equipment from Taiwan, such as scanners, scanning electron microscopes, and all other types of semiconductor tools that can be used to manufacture chips locally or perform reverse engineering.
In terms of chip production in Russia, RBC reports that MCST, the developer of Elbrus CPUs, is in talks with Russian contract chipmaker Mikron to manufacture processors in Russia. TSMC produced MCST’s most advanced Elbrus chip using the company’s 16 nm fabrication process. Mikron’s most advanced node, on the other hand, is 90 nm.
Furthermore, without extra equipment and/or spare parts, only time will tell whether the chipmaker can begin high-volume production of Elbrus CPUs using its 90 nm node or whether a more advanced node can be used at Mikron’s fab.