MANHASSET, NY -- Software engineering will save the day for Russian microelectronics and Russia has no hopes of catching up with leading global semiconductor technology players.
That prognosis was expressed by Tom Kilroy, senior vice president at Intel, who came to Skolkovo, the Russian Federation’s attempt at building up a home-grown Silicon Valley outside Moscow.
Kilroy was in Skolkovo to celebrate Intel's 20th anniversary in Russia. In an interview with The Moscow Times, Kilroy said: "Russia has more than just a small niche here and there. Intel's been able to establish a software expertise with our software engineers here that's been a critical part of our global business."
"It's very rare that I can say that a country represents a core competence critical to our industry," Kilroy said of Russia's software industry.
Skolkovo has been promoted as the industrial center for microelectronics whereby Russian ingenuity will catch up from their current 90-nm process to the leading 22-nm in most other leading semiconductor centers by making the necessary microelectronics leaps.
According to The Moscow Times report "Russia's share of the $314 billion global semiconductor market is quite small, with annual sales of both Russian-made and imported microchips at $1.2 billion, or less than 1 percent of the global total."
According to Heinz Kundert, president of SEMI Europe, the market volume could double over the next four years if a public-private strategy to regulate microelectronics development is implemented.
SEMI is also said to have suggested creating a microelectronics cluster in Zelenograd, the Soviet-era "Silicon Valley" electronics center outside Moscow. Housed in this formerly closed city are Micron and Angstrom, the two largest stronghold semi-private companies producing chips in Russia.
Government edict states that they want to have a hi-tech industry and a semiconductor industry to serve its internal markets. They have plenty of talent but it will take a radical shift in bureaucratic mentality left over from planned Soviet rule to make a difference and be on par with the West, or China for that matter.
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.