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Baikal Has Dug into Production. The Company Is Investing in a New Range of Processors

02 July 2021

By Nikita Korolev

Baikal Electronics domestic processor manufacturer will invest RUB 23 bln to expand its product line and increase production to 600,000 units by 2025. The new solutions can be used in laptops, tablets, data storage systems (DSS), supercomputers, and artificial intelligence. Demand for processors will stimulate import substitution in the public sector, experts say. But the problem, they warn, could be capacity shortages at Taiwan’s TSMS, where Baikal would place the order.
Baikal Has Dug into Production

Foto by Alexandr Kazakov / Kommersant

Kommersant has taken a look at Baikal Electronics’ new product strategy until 2025. The document was approved by the company's board of directors in June. It says it will invest up to RUB 23 bln in new processor lines by 2025. The investments will be made with own funds, state subsidies, and debt financing. The company refused to specify which bank would be the partner, but SPARK-Interfax database shows that between January and April, Baikal Electronics had entered into three pledge agreements valid till March 2022 with Sberbank.

Baikal Electronics intends to increase its total processor output from 130,000 in 2021 to 600,000 by 2025.

The chips are planned to be manufactured at Taiwan’s TSMC. The company wants to launch new generations of Baikal processors based on the ARMv9 architecture: Baikal M2 for desktops and monoblocks, Baikal L for laptops and tablets, and Baikal S2 for data storage systems (DSS), servers, and supercomputers. The topological norms will be between 12 nm and 6 nm. Baikal’s processors are now manufactured using 28-nm technology.

According to Andrey Evdokimov, Director General of Baikal Electronics, the development of a new range of processors based on the open RISC-V architecture is also being considered. Such solutions, he says, can be used in telecommunications equipment. “A line of artificial intelligence accelerators is being studied, both for data centers and advanced processing on devices where Baikal Electronics is targeting large banks and IT companies,” Andrey Evdokimov added.

In June, more than 70% of Baikal Electronics was purchased by lighting equipment manufacturer Varton Group of Companies (80% owned by Denis Frolov and 20% by Ilya Sivtsev; both own software developer Astra Linux Group of Companies in similar proportions). The amount of the transaction was not disclosed; according to expert estimates, it could be around RUB 4.5 bln. According to Andrey Evdokimov, after the transaction, Baikal Electronics will continue to develop as an independent business “without being linked to Astra Linux”. “This does not preclude partnerships to integrate products and create joint solutions,” Ilya Sivtsev specifies.

The demand for Baikal processors will be met primarily by the public sector, according to the experts interviewed by Kommersant.

“All the major developers of Russian computing equipment are either developing or have already introduced to the mass market products based on domestic processors. In the next few years, their use will become mandatory for Russian computer technology,” reminds Svetlana Legostayeva, Director General of the Computer Science Consortium. Open architecture solutions could complement the Baikal's range, however, most likely not in the high-performance segment, but in the relatively simple and more price-sensitive one, says Ivan Pokrovsky, Executive Director of the Association of Russian Electronics Developers and Manufacturers.

A problem for the project, according to the expert, could be the lack of TSMS capacity. The factory announced in June that it would concentrate its efforts on producing chipsets for Apple and the auto industry. Semiconductors for PCs, servers, and network devices will be of secondary importance. However, if Baikal places a large order, there is a better chance of it being fulfilled on time.

Source: Kommersant, 02.07.2021

Reference

Baikal Electronics is a joint venture between the T-Platforma Russian supercomputer developer and the T-Nano nanocenter of the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs. The company specializes in the design of the ARM- and MIPS-based integrated chips and crystal systems. The company’s developments are designed for use in the energy-efficient computer and industrial systems with different performance and functionality.

For additional information, please visit baikalelectronics.ru