Intel this week suspended all operations in Russia in response to the country's invasion of Ukraine. The company will support its employees in the Russia, but will not continue business activities in Russia. Previously the company decided to suspend shipments to the country.
"Effective immediately, we have suspended all business operations in Russia," a statement by Intel reads. This follows our earlier decision to suspend all shipments to customers in Russia and Belarus. […] We are working to support all of our employees through this difficult situation, including our 1,200 employees in Russia. We have also implemented business continuity measures to minimize disruption to our global operations."
Since Russia initiated its invasion of Ukraine in late February, numerous companies have either suspended their operations in the country or ceased to ship products there. Among those companies are AMD, Apple, Dell, Intel, HPE, Lenovo, and Nvidia just to name a few.
Intel was among the first major companies to establish a Russian presence in late 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Unlike the majority of high-tech Western companies, Intel has heavily invested in Russia over the last 30 years and even established research and development operations there.
For example, Intel's software development center in Nizhny Novgorod is an important part of the company's global software development network. Responsible for development of such products as oneAPI and OpenVINO toolkits, vTune profiler, Intel Parallel Studio, and mathematical libraries. Also, engineers from Nizhny Novgorod participated in development of the 5G standard. Meanwhile, Intel's Moscow office was responsible for marketing, business development, ASIC design, and even microarchitecture optimizations.
It looks like operations in Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod are now suspended and it is not particularly clear which of Intel's employees will be transferred to other countries to continue their work on important projects.
Without processors from AMD and Intel, as well as servers from Dell, HPE, and Lenovo, many Russian companies will soon run out of equipment and will have to scale down operations. There are proprietary Elbrus processors developed in Russian, but they cannot compete against EPYCs or Xeons in terms of performance, whereas servers on their base are deemed unacceptable by Sber, one of Russia's major banks and cloud companies.
Last week a report emerged at Bloomberg that Yandex, one of the largest Moscow, Russia-based IT companies, may run short of the chips required for its servers in 12 – 18 months due to import restrictions.
Both Sber and Yandex has lost numerous executives responsible for technologies in a matter of weeks, which adds to complications these companies are facing or are about to face.
One of the options that is still left for Russian companies is to use processors and compute accelerators developed in China instead of products from AMD, Intel, or Nvidia. There are several problems with such options. First up, software developers from Russia are unfamiliar with Chinese hardware and software development tools. Secondly, it remains to be seen whether Chinese companies will risk supplying hardware to Russia as most processors and accelerators nowadays are either developed or produced using U.S. technologies, whereas the U.S. prohibits its technologies to be imported to Russia.