In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Taiwanese government has just passed a series of sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s country and Belarus.
Following many European countries and the United States, the government of Taiwan has just decided to impose a number of sanctions against Russia and Belarus. The Taiwanese founders will now stop selling them modern processors, which are the basis of all new technologies. Therefore, the Kremlin will have to look elsewhere for sources … or be content with truly prehistoric chips by today’s standards.
This is apparently a direct reaction to Vladimir Putin’s offensive, which has so far not put an end to his attempt to annex Ukraine. In this context, computer chips become what is known as “dual-use technology”; these are facilities intended for civilian use, but which can also be used for military purposes.
Obviously, this also applies to processors, since all systems of communication, positioning, navigation, etc. require computer chips to function.
And of all the sanctions adopted so far, this one is certainly one of the most important. Because, despite its relatively small size, the island is a real technological fortress with a very large international weight.
Completely obsolete chips
Following TSMC, the undisputed and undisputed world leader in this industry, Taiwan is just raining and shining in the kingdom of processors and, by extension, in the entire computing ecosystem. Suffice it to say that this decision could have a significant impact on the Russian digital market.
Because from now on, the Russian authorities will be deprived of all processors offering computing speeds above 5 GFLOPS. In comparison, this is almost exactly equal to the processing power… Nintendo 3DS. They will also no longer be eligible for chips that exceed 25 MHz. Again, this limits the catalog to older models; today skiers think exclusively in GHz, i.e. thousand MHz.
And in case those restrictions were still too liberal, Taiwanese officials followed through. They also limited the size of the arithmetic logic unit, or ALU, to 32 bits. An extremely modest size for this absolutely fundamental CPU element; it is this ALU that allows you to perform all the basic mathematical operations that underlie the operation of the CPU. Taiwanese authorities have also decided to ban all processors with more than 144 pins. For contextualization it is necessary to return to the edition 1985 in the Intel catalog to find a chip with so many pins….
Finally, the founders are also instructed to stop exporting all CPUs with an average propagation time between gates of less than 0.4 nanoseconds. This term refers to the time it takes for electrical current to travel from one CPU logic block to another. This is a very important indicator, since the performance of the chip at all stages directly depends on it. Intuitively, 0.4 nanoseconds may seem very fast, but in fact, this transit time is very far from current standards.
Will Russia turn to China?
Suffice it to say that Taiwan has not done anything by halves. And just in case these draconian restrictions weren’t enough, all exports of semiconductor-related equipment were also banned.
This decision probably won’t have immediate consequences. On the other hand, the more time passes, the more tangible will be its consequences. Because in the state Russia simply does not have a sufficiently developed microelectronics industry to provide its own production..
Therefore, you will definitely have to turn to other players, because it is simply unthinkable to be content with chips that meet these criteria. The Kremlin could, for example, go to China for supplies; even if the Chinese founders still pale in comparison to the Taiwanese, their industry is still more mature than that of the Russians. And, above all, it has the possibility of mass production – two criteria that may well lead to cooperation.