Taiwan bans exports of chips faster than 25MHz to Russia, Belarus

Doom it is, then, Putin

Taiwan's government has enacted a strict ban on the export of computer chips and chip-making equipment to Russia and Belarus, a move that will make it even harder for the two countries to access modern processors following export bans from other countries.

The island nation is the world's largest advanced chip manufacturing hub, so the export ban carried out by Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs, reported last week, will make it more difficult for Russia and Belarus to find chips for a variety of electronics, including computers, phones and TVs.

Russia has already been scrambling to replace x86 processors from Intel and AMD that it can no longer access because of export bans by the US and other countries. This has prompted Russia to source x86-compatible chips from China for laptops that will be considerably slower than most modern systems. The country is also switching to servers using its homegrown Elbrus processors, which Russia's largest bank has found to be inadequate for multiple reasons.

Taiwan's new restrictions on chip exports to Russia and Belarus will significantly ratchet up the pressure on the two countries. This is because the export ban includes chips that are faster than 25MHz, which means Russia and Belarus won't be able to source chips from Taiwan that are faster than Intel's higher-end i386 microprocessors from the 1980s. Processors as fast as Intel's first Pentium CPUs from the early 1990s are completely out of the question.

That limitation alone would cut off Russia and Belarus from many microcontrollers and microprocessors that go into a variety of electronics. However, the island's restrictions also extend to chips with:

  • 5 gigaflops or higher performance
  • An arithmetic logic unit of 32 bits or wider
  • External interconnect speeds of 2.5 MB/s or higher
  • More than 144 pins
  • A basic gate propagation delay of less than 0.4 nanoseconds

Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs has also banned exports of chip-making equipment to Russia and Belarus. This includes lithography kit that is essential to manufacturing chips.

China's government didn't take the news well, issuing a statement on Monday that accused Taiwan of chasing clout and grandstanding with the new export ban.

But this shouldn't come as a surprise, given China's continuing aggression against Taiwan, its displeasure with Taiwan getting closer to the US and Europe, and the Middle Kingdom's friendliness towards Russia. ®

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