China reportedly bans Loongson chips from being exported to Russia • The Register

China has reportedly banned the export of chips that use the locally designed Loongson architecture.

A story in a Russian business newspaper Коммерсантъ (Kommersant) cites sources from the Ministry of Digital Development who have said Beijing will not allow military Loongson kits across the border into Russia or any other nation.

Beijing justifies this by saying that the chips have defense applications and are therefore too sensitive to be allowed to leave the Middle Kingdom.

As The registry It was recently reported that Loongson silicon will match the performance of kits from Intel and AMD. Russian chip manufacturers produce nothing with comparable performance.

Therefore, if the report is correct, it is important – for several reasons.

One is that in early February 2022, Russia and China declared a borderless partnership amid international pressure over China’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Unless Beijing lets local chip technology come to Moscow, the partnership clearly has limits.

The other is that the sanctions imposed on Russia since the illegal invasion of Ukraine mean that Russia will be prevented from buying silicon from AMD and Intel. Vladimir Putin loves cyber offensives, has imposed strict online censorship at home and needs to build more kinetic weapons to replace those destroyed in Ukraine. Where Moscow gets the silicon to do all of this – or how it will sustain the life of its current kit – is unknown. Increased efforts to secure silicon from gray or black markets seem likely.

Since invading Ukraine, Moscow has also seen many tech workers leave the country. Savvy techies have realized that the global skills shortage means they’re likely to get jobs outside of Russia, with higher salaries, and not live under an authoritarian who could draft them into the military, along with the many perks some feel are worth striving for.

It seems that some local IT companies have therefore decided to use remote workers in other countries.

Russia’s Digital Development Ministry on Thursday opposed a proposal to ban remote offshore workers outright, saying it could hurt the competitiveness of local businesses. Russia, the ministry argued, must compete for global talent like any other nation as its entrepreneurs strive to develop digital solutions.

However, the ministry pointed out that great care should be taken when assessing the risk of using offshore personnel to work on critical applications and infosec infrastructure. And it supports a ban on offshore workers who have anything to do with government systems. ® China reportedly bans Loongson chips from being exported to Russia • The Register

Rick Schindler

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