A daughter company of Rosatom, a nuclear energy company owned by the Russian government, is testing PCs from Delta Computers called Beaver that are based on a processor designed by Russia's Baikal Microelectronics and a Linux distribution approved for use by state agencies. The company is trying to replace PCs designed by Western companies with something domestic, reports 3DNews. But they may have an obstacle in their way.
Delta Computers' Beaver is a small form-factor PC running Baikal Electronics’s Baikal-M1 (BE-M1000) chip and the Astra Linux Special Edition operating system. The Beaver can have up to 64GB of DDR4 memory and up to 16TB of HDD and SSD storage. The machine has multiple USB Type-A 2.0/3.0 ports, PS/2 connectors, an RS-232 header, two Ethernet ports, an HDMI output, and two 3.5-mm audio connectors for headphones and microphones. The PC can be upgraded with low-profile PCIe 3.0 x8 add-in-boards, such as graphics cards. The system uses an LCD display, a corded keyboard, and a corded mouse.
"The concern has purchased the first batch of 'Beaver' domestic personal computers based on the Baikal processor and is getting ready to introduce them into the infrastructure of the Rosenergoatom energy generating company," a statement by Rosatom reads.
Delta's Beaver is nothing special if not for its Baikal-M1 SoC. The Baikal-M1 is a rather well-known processor that packs eight Arm Cortex-A57 cores with an 8MB L3 cache operating at 1.50 GHz and mated with an eight-cluster Arm Mali-T628 GPU with two display pipelines. The SoC, which uses technologies from 2014 – 2015, is made by TSMC using one of its 28nm-class process technologies. But such processors cannot be shipped to a Russian or a Belarussian entity from Taiwan due to restrictions imposed by the government.
While Rosatom might have procured samples of Beaver (Bober in Russian), Delta Computers can't get enough processors as the owner of Baikal Microelectronics went bankrupt in late 2022.
It is noteworthy that Delta is by far not the only Russian company to develop a PC based on the Baikal-M1, a processor that is not produced in volumes. Bitblaze, a Russian brand specializing in servers, storage systems, and workstations, demonstrated its pre-production Bitblaze Titan BM15 notebook last August. While the company promised to sell the laptop later in the year, the PC is still listed as 'in development' on Bitblaze's website.
The problem is US does'nt want Russia to have access to it's latest high-end/tech hardware. And there's a zillion ways to obtain such hardware. However with infested firmware's containing malware and all that, being able to be undetected i surely get why you want to design a home grown computer based system for goverment and such. The software is there, it's all open source and it can be setup to be a good alternative for X86/X64/Windows systems.
It's not about speed or specs; it's about having home grown CPU's or computers for that matter that are not US made. There where signs that motherboards, nics and HDD's would be having a hidden part inside the firmware, that could be activated remotely. Having such equipment in your goverment or even a nuclear plant is a high risk. Spying is real. And its almost impossible to check up on any server grade motherboard to figure out if it has hidden stuff build inside of it or not.
"These are perfect all in one systems for light weight use."
That's what I was responding to. They're far from perfect. 10 years ago, they'd have been pretty good.
Sadly, it was not meant to be, and it joins a list of Russian "domestic" tech failures. I just hope that some of these rare SFF units will trickle down to tinkerers at a later date.
*Just based on GFlops reported for VideoCore VI and this MP6 version of the Mali-T628, it could be over 4x faster. Mali is also better supported than VideoCore. And of course, there's the PCIe 3.0 x8 capability for a discrete GPU.
The open source driver for Adreno, on the other hand, looks to be nearly up there with Intel and AMD. Given that, I'd suggest that a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c or 8cx would be much more interesting, as an ARM-based laptop & desktop platform. Lenovo is working on getting the Linux support for their Snapdragon-powered Thinkpad X13s into shape, and Microsoft has launched an update to their $600 Snapdragon-powered dev box that even includes 32 GB of RAM.
But, if you really want a Mali GPU, then you should look for a Rockchip RK3588(s) -based system. These guys even sell it in a mini-ITX form factor:
...although that's a lot more expensive than something like the Orange Pi 5: