The grip of sanctions is tightening around Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, as even tech giant Huawei has reportedly also stopped all high-performance storage and server equipment shipments headed towards the country. Huawei thus joins tech giants AMD, Intel, Nvidia, and TSMC in cutting off Russia's access to cutting-edge technology that could aid in its war efforts — one of its few technological alternatives to the now dry wells of Western technology.
The decision likely doesn't come out of a political disagreement with Russia's actions. Huawei has severely hamstrung itself in regards to access to U.S. technology in the wake of sanctions already imposed on the company under the China-U.S. trade war. Rather, Huawei is likely simply protecting itself from collateral damage to its own business should the U.S. find issues with any technological shipments featuring American technology and IP.
Existing sanctions against Huawei are so severe that the company has been forced to explore alternative income markets such as pig farming. Perhaps more crucially, Huawei also initiated the development of its own hybrid TSV-free 3D stacking tech to boost silicon performance on non-leading-edge nodes.
While the US sanctions against Russia are primarily aimed at curtailing military applications, advances in consumer technology mean that mainstream AMD Ryzen or Intel Core products could also be deployed in those scenarios. As a result, companies are taking the "better safe than sorry" approach, which looks like a smart move considering Huawei's already-significant troubles.
Thus, Huawei is seemingly putting its technological partnership with Russia on hold until the geopolitical climate settles. The company has already improved Russian infrastructure by installing an Arm-based datacenter server in the heart of Moscow, whose storage system the Russian government has been looking to upgrade — with uncertain success — since last year.
It has now become increasingly difficult for Russia to scale - and even maintain - its already-deployed high-performance computing systems. Should these begin to fail, the country will face a degrading tech infrastructure that is likely to tendril through its military capabilities. A turn towards illegal, under-the-table acquisitions could be the only way out for the country's tech barge to stay afloat.
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Francisco Pires is a freelance news writer for Tom's Hardware with a soft side for quantum computing.