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Taiwan Restricts Russia, Belarus to CPUs Under 25 MHz Frequency

Arm
(Image credit: Arm)

From now on, Russian and Belarusian entities can only buy CPUs operating at below 25 MHz and offering performance of up to 5 GFLOPS from Taiwanese companies. This essentially excludes all modern technology, including microcontrollers for more or less sophisticated devices. 

Due to restrictions imposed on exports to Russia by the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union, leading Taiwanese companies were among the first to cease working with Russia after the country started full-scale war against Ukraine in late February. This week Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) formally published its list of high-tech products that are banned from exportation to Russia and Belarus, which prevents all kinds of Taiwan-produced high-tech devices as well as tools used to make chips (whether or not they use technologies originated from the U.S., U.K., or E.U., which were already covered by restrictions) to be exported to the aggressive nation.  

Items banned from exportation to Russia and Belarus are pursuant to Category 3 to Category 9 of Wassenaar Arrangement, which covers electronics, computers, telecommunications, sensors, lasers, navigation equipment, maritime technology, navigation, avionics, jet engines, and a number of other categories.  

Since the arrangement was adopted by 42 states in the mid-1990s, the restrictions  may seem a bit archaic when it comes to computers and electronics, but this actually makes them even more severe for Russia and Belarus (the country used to help its neighbor to get around sanctions).  

Starting today, Russian entities cannot buy chips that meet one of the following conditions from Taiwanese companies, reports DigiTimes:

  • Has performance of 5 GFLOPS. To put it into context, Sony's PlayStation 2 released in 2000 had 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 basic gate propagation delay time of less than 0.4 nanosecond.

In addition to being unable to buy chips from Taiwanese companies, Russian entities will not be able to get any chip production equipment from Taiwan, which includes scanners, scanning electron microscopes, and all other types of semiconductor tools that can be used to make chips locally or perform reverse engineering (something that the country pins a lot of hopes on).  

Speaking of chip production in Russia, it is interesting to note that MCST, the developer of Elbrus CPUs, is negotiating with Russian contract chipmaker Mikron to make processors domestically, according to RBC. MCST's most advanced Elbrus chip was made at TSMC using the company's 16 nm fabrication technology. By contrast, Mikron's most advanced node is 90 nm. 

Furthermore, without spare tools and/or spare parts, only time will tell whether the chipmaker will be able to kick off high volume manufacturing of Elbrus CPUs using its 90 nm node and whether a more advanced node can be used at Mikron's fab.

 

Anton Shilov
Anton Shilov

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • hotaru251
    sadly they'll just use other nations to get a hold of the newer tech.
    Reply
  • Eximo
    Don't knock a 25Mhz CPU either. You can make and do lots of things with those. Probably enough used smartphones and older cell phones in the country to harvest for years if they really needed chips for something. They have China right next door with domestic CPU and GPU production, not great stuff, but enough for most people's needs.
    Reply
  • BX4096
    hotaru251 said:
    sadly they'll just use other nations to get a hold of the newer tech.

    It's still the right thing to do, and considering how eagerly China studies the Russian invasion for their own expansionist goals, is in Taiwan's own best interest as well. Let Putin's cronies worry where to get decent electronics in bulk at premium prices, and then we'll see how much of it will go to the Russian people instead of the chosen few.

    Good news for the Russian abacus industry, though...

    Reply
  • derekullo
    To be fair we got to the the moon with a 2.048 Megahertz processor
    Reply
  • jeremyj_83
    Eximo said:
    Don't knock a 25Mhz CPU either. You can make and do lots of things with those. Probably enough used smartphones and older cell phones in the country to harvest for years if they really needed chips for something. They have China right next door with domestic CPU and GPU production, not great stuff, but enough for most people's needs.
    In x86 desktop CPUs you need to go back to the 386 to get something that might not be regulated by this.
    Reply
  • Eximo
    If you are thinking of desktop CPUs and the like, sort of correct. There are many low power/low frequency alternatives to Intel and AMD that licensed x86. Z86, Via, and a few others.

    Tons of DSPs, Programmable logic controllers, etc all in that rough frequency class.

    I wouldn't be thinking of consumer grade hardware, as I mentioned they can get stuff like that through China. It would more things like high speed networking and a lot of other vital infrastructure that they might get immediately locked out of.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    derekullo said:
    To be fair we got to the the moon with a 2.048 Megahertz processor
    Mostly slide rules.
    Reply
  • Spuwho
    Coming soon to your favorite newsfeed:

    News Item: A Russian underground datacenter is found to have networked over 400 M1 CPU based Apple computers for computation.

    News Item: Russian warehouse raided for a power usage violation where over 150 NVidia GPU's were found.

    News Item: A former Russian vodka factory was found to contain an undetermined number (estimated to be over 1000) of Raspberry Pi's hooked up in a mass of network, power and USB cables.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    derekullo said:
    To be fair we got to the the moon with a 2.048 Megahertz processor
    Running a real-time cooperative multitasking OS of sorts no less.

    The AGC is an amazing piece of technology when you think about it.

    EDIT: Some side research since I wanted to brush up a bit on the AGC tells me that it was actually running a pre-emptive real-time OS, or at least had a job scheduler that acted as such.

    And there's also the famous instance during Apollo 11 when the lunar module was landing, the AGC was overtaxed due to some equipment glitches and instead of curling up and dying, it discarded non critical jobs and kept going.
    Reply
  • SunMaster
    The tech embargo in the 90s was quite effective. No doubt what Russia has coming for the upcoming decades will hit hard. Want to export sanctioned tech to Russia? Be prepared for the sanctions and reactions of the other countries sanctioning Russia.
    Reply