Russian Company MCST Builds 'Elbrus-4C' CPU That Emulates x86 Programs

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Reminds me of the Loongson, it too emulated some x86 instructions. And was built on the 65 nm process. Maybe it came as part of a technological exchange between China and Russia.

Couldn't Russia just buy an ARM licence, the fab the chips themselves, to ensure no backdoors or other nasty stuff? If that's the goal. And then emulate x86 via a virtual machine? Sounds a lot simpler than reinventing the wheel only to end up with a low performance chip. And TDP doesn't mean much. It's actually pretty high for a 800 Mhz chip @ 65 nm.
 

childofthekorn

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Just the start of the technological independence we're going to be seeing. Sanctions away and the customers will be led astray. Still curious if the sanctions and ban of US tech companies providing russia with goods and services hindered resellers, if they keep stocks on hand of course.
 

Larry Litmanen

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Just the start of the technological independence we're going to be seeing. Sanctions away and the customers will be led astray. Still curious if the sanctions and ban of US tech companies providing russia with goods and services hindered resellers, if they keep stocks on hand of course.
Those sanctions are as effective as Iraq sanctions. All it means is Russian economy will be shifting to tech that uses Chinese or Korean tech.
 

greghome

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on a marginally similar note, I wonder what is stopping the chinese or in this case the russians from buying out AMD and using their tech expertise to build their own homegrown CPUs, except maybe congress
 

amk-aka-Phantom

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Couldn't Russia just buy an ARM licence, the fab the chips themselves, to ensure no backdoors or other nasty stuff? If that's the goal.
on a marginally similar note, I wonder what is stopping the chinese or in this case the russians from buying out AMD and using their tech expertise to build their own homegrown CPUs, except maybe congress
Russian here. The goal, as usual, is to misuse/launder state funds, not actually achieve something meaningful. Everything else is just a cover-up.
 

Svetoslav Enkov

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APM-401 computer with a 24GB ECC DDR3 is set to cost approx 4000 USD - too high price. And the processor Elbrus-4S is manufactured by TSMC, not in Russian fabs.
 

LostAlone

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Sounds like it's more of a research/development thing than an actual commercial chip. Obviously I can't read russian or anything, just that from the specs it feels like something to prove that the instruction set runs well and can handle x86 programs out of the box and then they can look at improving the fab process, speed and core count once that's done. That would actually make sense.

If it's not then I have no idea what's the point of this at all. As others have said, there's no reason why they couldn't use an off the shelf ARM design with their own modifications which would be both cheap and radically easier to develop for. ARM might not be hyper popular in the desktop space but there's certainly lots of talent working on ARM chips and a solid amount of software too. A far better option than going propitiatory would be for Russia to throw their chips behind ARM as a desktop/server chip set - that would actually stand a chance of success.

I guess we wait and see, but just from the article this seems like an interesting but ultimately useless piece of hardware; a solution in search of a problem. You can certainly do a lot more with 800mhz these days than people think (especially on linux - plenty of office machines would happily run on that), but if you can manage on 800mhz then you can manage on an 800mhz ARM chip without even touching x86 software.
 

Svetoslav Enkov

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More strange (I read russian native, was married to russian girl before too) is the fact that they do this for "eliminating Western CPU worms/trojans and so on" and then runs Western OS and System Softwares (and in emulation)... Better use cheap western CPUs and to make Eastern software and OS I think. Much less impact on the security...
 

bit_user

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Only 1 year ago, Russia announced they were switching to ARM-based chips, for the reasons cited above. My guess is that the Elbrus was probably developed with the intention of competing to be the new state-sanctioned architecture. But it's wise for Russia to go with a standard ISA.

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/russia-intel-amd-arm,27118.html

I wonder if there's any Itanium-style hardware translation engine, or if the x86 translation is purely in software (which is my guess). If the latter, then billing this as a x86 CPU strikes me as silly. Ultimately, JIT translation can do a better job, and caching previously run programs virtually eliminates the downsides.

I don't see this development changing their trajectory towards ARM. Maybe Russia keeps this company funded as a hedge, but I don't see another good reason, at the moment.
 
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