Vasily Shpak, the Ministry of Industry and Trade: “Baikal Is One of the Whales on Which We Will Build the Domestic Computing Ecosystem”

28 November 2020

Baikal Electronics held the First Practical Conference “Ecosystem Development and Growth Drivers”, where dozens of produced and promising partner solutions based on the Baikal processor line were presented. Baikal Electronics is the largest project of the T-Nano nanocenter of the Investment Network of the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs.

The conference was opened by Vasily Shpak, Director of the Department of the Radio-Electronic Industry of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. “We are determined to follow the path of import substitution for the country’s technological independence and sovereignty. This necessarily requires our own Russian computing technology, which cannot be independent without the use of domestic microarchitectures. Baikal is one of the whales on which we will build the entire ecosystem,” Vasily Shpak said.

The representative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade talked about the measures to support domestic manufacturers of computer equipment: “To organize market niches within government procurement and among companies operating under the 223-FZ Law, quotas have also been introduced in computing, which must be compulsorily complied with from the beginning of 2021. In the near future, only those that use a domestic central processing unit will be considered Russian computing equipment. We will build up pressure and provide preferences and benefits to Russian producers. We are ready to subsidize R&D costs also for final computer hardware and system and application software.”

Measures to support buyers of domestic computer equipment are being seriously considered. “Starting this year, a preferential leasing program is already in place. We are considering direct subsidies for buyers of Russian equipment,” Vasily Shpak said. According to him, the proposal to prohibit the purchase of foreign analogs in the presence of appropriate positions in the Register of Russian radio-electronic products is being finalized by the Ministry of Justice.

Svetlana Legostaeva, General Director of the Computing Technology Consortium called for putting the interests of the consumer at the forefront. “Domestic products have a 30 percent preference in government procurement, but the benefits of this gets the supplier, not the buyer,” the head of the consortium pointed out. She is convinced that the consumer must be a key player in the microelectronics ecosystem. “Whatever the pressure, if we exclude the interests of the consumer, who also solves the state’s problems, all the multibln-dollar investments will be meaningless,” says Svetlana Legostaeva. We need measures to support consumers of domestic microelectronics. “Computing Technology” together with the ANO “Center of Competence for Import Substitution in the field of ICT” prepared a letter to the Russian government, where one of the ideas was to subsidize the excess cost of domestic computing equipment over foreign counterparts.

The letter also requested to give instructions to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Digital Economy to analyze the state information systems (SIS) of all federal executive bodies (FEB), to determine the possibility and timing of their adaptation to the domestic architecture, to form a plan up to 2024 with the perspective until 2030, indicating the necessary financial resources for this, including support for software developers, SIS, and computing equipment. She reminded that the share of Russian computers on the Russian market was extremely low—13%; it was planned to raise it to 44% in 2024; the share of Russian microprocessors used in domestic products was set to increase to over 50%.

One of the key problems is the prevailing lack of consumer confidence in domestic computing technology and even fear of it, says Svetlana Legostaeva: “To overcome this, in fact, unfounded prejudice, it is necessary to inform about the real cases of application of domestic technology, and the story should be told on behalf of consumers.”

Baikal Electronics is the first Russian processor manufacturer ready to produce more than 100,000 Baikal-T and Baikal-M products in 2021. Director General of the company, Andrey Evdokimov called on all technology and software developers to work together to create this demand for domestic products. He also reported on Baikal Electronics’ plans for the coming year. A third processor, Baikal-S, is scheduled for release. It will be a powerful and efficient server processor with 48 cores of the ARM 75 architecture, frequency of at least 2 GHz, and saturated peripherals. The first products are expected to come out in Q1 2021, the first implementations—in Q3 2021. In Q3 2021, we plan to release the Baikal-M1/2 processor, which will have four cores, rather than eight as in the standard, one memory controller, partially reduced peripherals, the processor will be lighter, smaller, but its cost will be lower. It will allow creating cheaper workstations and thin clients.

Many conference participants talked about their successful cooperation with Baikal Electronics. Sergey Grishakov, Director of the Product Marketing Department of DEPO Electronics, a manufacturer of domestic computing equipment, assured that “the results of a large pool of comparative tests of Baikal-M and comparable Intel models were almost comparable”. He praised the wisdom of the Baikal Electronics team, which collected wishes from the entire development community. “That’s why the processor turned out to be very convenient. Baikal M is a great machine where you can build an entry-level server. We intend to release three lines of server platforms,” Sergey Grishankov said. The DEPO Electronics customer solutions also have a Baikal-M-based unit.

The level of security services for critical information infrastructure, possible on foreign processors, is incomparably lower than in the case of integrated security based on our topology, which is possible only on Russian processors, “which include a new flagship Baikal M”, said Andrey Tikhonov, CEO of the Trusted Platform Association uniting 34 companies engaged in import substitution in the field of microelectronics. He is confident that Baikal-M will take the lead among desktops, and intends to make every effort to make the same happen in network technology. The head of the Association reminded that from the middle of the following year the register of telecom equipment suppliers would include manufacturers that would work only with Russian processors. “Based on Baikal-M, it is possible to make, for example, a very wide range of routers, representing a great advantage for the entire industry. We are very much looking forward to Baikal-S, which can be used to make high-performance routers,” Andrey Tikhonov said. The specialist, who worked at IBM for a long time, is convinced that “without their own electronics there is no digital sovereignty, and without it, there is no sovereignty at all. We have the ability to create the most advanced electronic component base. In 3-5 years, we will reach parity with foreign manufacturers in all key areas.”

Edelweiss specialists have been familiar with Baikal processors for a long time and have developed about 20 complex radioelectronic devices based on them, said Aleksander Murashov, the head of the Technical Expertise and Product Promotion Department of the company. According to him, the most promising for commercialization is the personal workstation, which is already presented in two options. Edelweiss is ready to adapt them for any operating system. Also, monoblocks were made, Baikal-M-based information stands were developed. They are already used to sell tickets in Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. There are options for specialized purposes: for museums, universities, kindergartens, and stores. Recently, a new end product has appeared—smart stops, which, in addition to information boards, are equipped with Wi-Fi, charging, a security button, and four video cameras. The first 150 units are already operated in Nizhny Novgorod. The company is also preparing the prototypes of server boards for the organization of data storage systems, which are going to be produced as early as next year. The next step, according to Alexander Murashov, will be the release of the Baikal-M-based notebook, for which a new board, and then an industrial computer will be developed.

Edelweiss together with Nvidia intends to develop telecommunication equipment on the basis of Baikal processors “possessing such speeds, which at the moment are absent in Russian products,” assured Aleksander Murashov. Eventually, based on Baikal processors it will be possible to build IT networks of entire industrial enterprises, including workstations, servers and routers, and almost all automated control systems.

Finally, the Lagrange Sarmah modular computer based on the Baikal-M processor was demonstrated for the first time at the conference. The first engineering samples were received in August of this year (estimated cost RUB 49 thousand). The new product was presented by Aleksander Kornev, CEO of the Lagrange project, a developer of computing machines—computers and motherboards. “We always wanted to develop technology on domestic processors,” the head of the project admitted. As concepts, the company has packaged solutions based on Baikal-M in the form of a blade server, which can be placed both in a server rack and stand on the table (the price for a single structure is approximately RUB 50-60 thousand), and a monoblock based on Lagrange Sarmah with a display of 27 inches, Full HD, with a fully passive cooling system. It is expected in mid-2021, and the price will be around RUB 80 thousand.

Within the framework of the conference, Baikal Electronics and the Domestic Software Association of Software Developers signed a cooperation agreement. Andrey Evdokimov, Director General of Baikal Electronics, and Renat Lashin, Executive Director of the ARPP “Domestic Software” put their signatures under the document. Andrey Evdokimov explained the conclusion of the agreement by the need to create a single ecosystem for consumers: “The user doesn’t see the processor at all, he has the software in front of him/her first. It is very important that all this acts as a single quality product, and the user enjoys working with it.” On behalf of the Association, which unites 190 Russian IT companies, Renat Lashin said the following: “the creation and development of domestic ecosystems of software and hardware is a very important task for the state. Our interaction will only strengthen and give momentum to the result.”

Reference

The Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs was established in 2010 in accordance with Federal Law No. 211-FZ “On reorganization of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies.” The Fund aims to develop the innovative infrastructure in the sphere of nanotechnology and implement the educational and infrastructure programs already started by RUSNANO.

The supreme collegial management body of the Fund is the Supervisory Board. Under the Fund’s Charter, the competence of the Supervisory Council, in particular, includes the issues of determining the priority directions of the Fund’s activity, as well as its strategy and budget. The Chairman of the Fund’s Executive Board, the collegial management body, is the Chairman of the Board of Management Company RUSNANO LLC Sergey Kulikov.

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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