Russian outlet today is reporting that the conglomerate Rostec, a Russian state-backed corporation specializing in investment in technology, has penned a deal with server company Yadro and silicon design company Syntacore to develop RISC-V processors for computers, laptops, and servers. Initial reports are suggesting that Syntacore will develop a powerful enough RISC-V design to power government and education systems by 2025.

The cost of the project is reported to be around 30 billion rubles ($400m), with that the organizers of the project plan to sell 60,000 systems based around new processors containing RISC-V cores as the main processing cores. The reports state that the goal is to build an 8-core processor, running at 2 GHz, using a 12-nanometer process, which presumably means GlobalFoundries but at this point it is unclear. Out of the project funding, two-thirds will be provided by ‘anchor customers’ (such as Rostec and subsidiaries), while the final third will come from the federal budget. The systems these processors will go into will operate initially at Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science, as well as the Ministry of Health.

Syntacore already develops its own core with the RISC-V architecture, rather than licensing a design. There have been questions as to whether any current RISC-V design is powerful enough to be used in a day-to-day work machine suitable for administrative services, however with the recent news that Canonical is enabling Ubuntu/Linux on some of SiFive’s RISC-V designs, chances are that by 2025 there will be a sufficient number of software options to choose from should the Russian processor adhere to any specifications required. That being said, it is not uncommon for non-standard processors in places like Russia or China to use older customized forks of Linux to suit the needs of the businesses using the hardware. Syntacore's documentation states that their highest performance 64-bit core already supports Linux.

Syntacore's latest design

This news is an interesting development given that Russia has multiple home-grown CPU prospects in the works already, such as the Elbrus 2000 family of processors that run a custom VLIW instruction set with binary translation for Intel x86 and x86-64; these processors already offer 8-core and multi-socket systems running on Linux. Development on Elbrus is still ongoing with Rostec in the mix, and the project seems focused on high-powered implementations in desktop to server use. In contrast, the new RISC-V development seems to be targeting low-powered implementations for desktop and laptop use. Russia also has Baikal processors using the MIPS32 ISA, built by a Russian supercomputer company.

It will be interesting to see how this story develops: $400m should be sufficient to build a processor and instruct system design at this level, which puts the question on how well the project will execute.

Sources: @torgeek,

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  • Jasonovich - Friday, July 16, 2021 - link

    Out of interest on the Videocardz and Hothardware websites there's some spill about Intel making an offer to purchase GlobalFoundaries for 30 billion US dollars!
  • Jasonovich - Friday, July 16, 2021 - link

    And how does that impact on AMD'a intellectual properties or existing patents with GF if Intel becomes the owner?
  • mode_13h - Sunday, July 18, 2021 - link

    > how does that impact on AMD'a intellectual properties

    Any NDAs that AMD signed with GF will remain in place, and must be respected by Intel.
  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - link

    8 cores, 2GHz on 12nm in 2025??? That is rather unambitious for $400m considering by that time TSMC 2nm should be ready and mobile phones would run at ~4GHz by then.
  • FreckledTrout - Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - link

    That was not the point. They just want there own CPU. That 400M for a large country is nothing for an investment like this. Plus I would expect if it goes well for them to make a gen2 version to bring it more current. The first go is probably being made cheaply on an older node on purpose.
  • webdoctors - Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - link

    I've worked at CPU startups in Silicon Valley, some even with satellite offices in Moscow. Also knew tons of Russians in grad skule at the top CS/ECE universities in America.

    This news is so weird, Russia should be capable of building something far, farrrr more ambitious than this. Better to use the ARM ISA if they want something with less porting overhead, but still own the architecture. This is probably a result of a ludicrous brain drain (probably from pissing off their citizens).
  • mode_13h - Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - link

    What a weird troll.
  • mode_13h - Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - link

    > Better to use the ARM ISA if they want something with less porting overhead

    You can already run desktop Linux (Fedora, Ubuntu) on them. Tools support is first class. Sure, not as much has been optimized for it as ARM, but that gap should mostly close by the time this thing ships.
  • TeXWiller - Thursday, July 15, 2021 - link

    Compare this to the EU EPI project. The first HPC RISC-V product will be an accelerator tile, not the main CPU tile, which will still be based on the standard ARM cores even crossing the 2023 line. In this sense, the 2025 goal is ambitious.
  • Wilco1 - Wednesday, July 14, 2021 - link

    They already have Elbrus (a homegrown VLIW that can also run x86 code). $400m is about what you need if you wanted to build a world-class server CPU. I doubt that will happen based on (a) the unambitious specs, and (b) the new yacht need to be paid somehow. This is Russia after all.

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