Russian credibility in electronics has long been low. Too many government plans have been announced and not fulfilled. When Russia received a windfall through the export of oil, gas and other energy resources, it gained some serious money for technology investment.
Russia seemed prepared to invest its new-found wealth in a couple of Soviet-era chip companies: Mikron JSC and Angstrem JSC, supporting plans to bring in older manufacturing processes from the likes of STMicroelectronics and Advanced Micro Devices. But then in 2009, Sitronics, the owner of Mikron, shelved plans to build a 300-mm wafer fab equipped with 65- and 45-nm manufacturing processes. The project was supposedly intended to launch in 2010 but was delayed by the global recession.
With the creation of Russia Corporation of Nanotechnologies (Rusnano), investment policy appeared to shift. The plan seemed to be using energy export funds to attract capital-starved western companies to put down manufacturing roots in Russia, thereby importing current technology while creating jobs and infrastructure.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.