China bans chip exports to Russia due to national security concerns

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The final impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine came yesterday when, according to a Russian publication, China decided to ban all exports of its domestic processors to Russia. The alleged decision comes after US chip companies, including Advanced Micro Devices, Inc (AMD), Intel Corporation, and NVIDIA Corporation, halted sales in Russia following US sanctions against the country. The invasion of Ukraine saw Russia struggle to meet its semiconductor requirements. However, officials interviewed by the publisher responsible for today’s report downplayed the Chinese decision stating that projects planning to use the processors have not yet started.

Chinese Loongson processors are suitable for Russian needs – they are still inferior to American products

In the immediate aftermath of this year’s invasion, the US government responded to Russian aggression in the form of severe sanctions that prevented the flow of technology into the country if the products were to be used by the Russian government, its military, or any entities. associated with the two. These sanctions were followed by many others later, which targeted the Chinese semiconductor industry. This included sweeping measures that would ban employees of US companies and those with US citizenship from working in China, as it aims to prevent the use of artificial intelligence by the Chinese military to counter US national interests.

Now, China appears to have joined the United States in limiting technological products that can make their way within Russia’s borders. According to one report from Kommersant, the Chinese government has decided to stop supplying domestically manufactured Loongson chips to Russia. These chips are among the most advanced currently being produced in China.

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Processor benchmarks Loongson 3A6000, one of the latest from the company. This processor has not been launched yet, and the available products are the 5000 series chips. Photo: Longsun

These chips are manufactured by China’s Loongson Technology Corporation Ltd., a Beijing-based company that has been designing products since 2001. Loongson, like other Chinese companies, is heavily constrained when it comes to manufacturing semiconductors. China lags behind the world in cutting-edge manufacturing technology, and its largest chip maker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) doesn’t have the tools to bypass the 7nm process node.

Loongson’s latest products are built with 12nm in mind, confirming that they are still three generations behind both Intel and AMD. In addition, the Chinese company has been making waves with its upcoming products, the 6000 series chips. According to some criteria, it can match AMD’s Zen 3 products in terms of performance. The Zen 3 lineup debuted in 2020, and since then, AMD has moved on to Zen 4, which it announced in November 2021.

As far as the Chinese ban goes, it also includes other countries and aims to prevent products used in Chinese military infrastructure from being used in other countries as well. Kommersant also reported that Loongson’s products have been tested in Russia and meet the requirements. However, most of them prefer to use Intel products as they are available in large quantities all over the world. The publication also reported that motherboards with Loongson chipsets are still available for order within Russia.

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