Published in PC Hardware

Chinese Longsoon chips not going to Russia

by on14 December 2022

China needs them all itself

The Chinese government has banned exports of Loongson CPUs based on the LoongArch microarchitecture to Russia ironically for the same reasons that the US is not giving it access to its chips.

The Chinese government is worried that its processors might be used by Tsar Putin in his glorious five year plan to restore the Russian Empire. Loongson chips could have become an alternative to x86 processors from AMD and Intel if partners of these two companies cease to ship these CPUs to Russia via other countries.

But the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media told Kommersant business daily that the Chinese government has banned exports of Loongson processors featuring the LoongArch microarchitecture to other countries. This is not going to have an immediate impact on the local market, but it could leave Russia without alternatives to processors from AMD and Intel.

At present Russian companies do not depend on the supply of Chinese processors significantly, in case of a hypothetical blocking of 'parallel imports,' they hoped to switch to Loongson solutions. The best Loongson CPUs are used by the Chinese military-industry complex, this is the main reason why they are not available to foreign markets."

It is still possible for the Russians to get their paws on Loongson LS3A5000-based systems and motherboards from AliExpress, but these parts are expensive. Given that the performance of Loongson CPUs is significantly lower compared to processors from AMD and Intel, it's hard to expect these products will get any traction anywhere outside China.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, 2021, AMD, Intel, and Nvidia ceased operations in the country and stopped selling CPUs and GPUs to Russian companies. While grey imports of CPUs and GPUs thrive in Russia, it is possible that at some point they will be stopped or significantly reduced and the country will be left without essential technology.

Loongson CPUs are made by SMIC on its 12nm-class fabrication process. Assuming that SMIC's 12nm/14nm capacity is limited, China may simply want to keep all the processors it can get for its own projects. While some Loongson chips may ship from AliExpress, there will be no official sales of these CPUs to customers in Russia or other countries.


Last modified on 14 December 2022
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