Russia made some amazing 48-core SoC Arms even before the imposition of sanctions

In the context: Russian chip maker Baikal Electronics was halfway through a series of SoCs ranging from eight to 48 cores before Russia invaded Ukraine and imposed sanctions that hurt its nascent semiconductor industry.

But before the imposition of sanctions, Baikal received several prototypes of its latest (and possibly last) SoC from TSMC. Somehow some of them ended up in the hands Russian enthusiast who shared them with Fritchens Fritz, an extremely talented chip photographer.

This monstrous system on a chip BE-S1000. It was designed for server applications and has 48 Arm Cortex-A75 cores. It has an all-core clock of 2GHz and a TDP of 120W. It was manufactured on a TSMC 16FFC assembly and measures a whopping 607mm.2.

There are 12 compute clusters in a ring around the center of the SoC, each containing four cores and four 512 KB L3 cache blocks. Each core contains its own 512 KB L2 cache and two blocks of 64 KB L1 cache. In the middle of the SoC is a four-by-four grid of 2MB L4 cache blocks for a total of 32MB. The entire processor has 24 MB of L3 and L2 cache and 6 MB of L1 cache: 86 MB in total, divided among 48 cores.

The I/O controllers are located around the perimeter. On the left and right are five PCIe 4.0 x16 controllers, three of which can be used as CCIX 1.0 modules and provide two-way and four-way SMP (symmetric multiprocessing). Top and bottom are six memory controllers, each of which can handle a 72-bit channel of up to 128GB of DDR4-3200 memory with ECC, or 768GB in between.

Baikal backs up these impressive technical performances with some benchmark figures. He compares the S1000 to several slides with a 20-core Intel Xeon Gold 6148, a 16-core AMD Epyc 7351, and a 48-core Huawei Kunpeng 920. It concludes that the SoC is roughly equivalent to AMD and Intel processors, but only 85% faster than Huawei’s rather similar Arm . SoC based.

In its purest form, the S1000 scores an impressive 14,246 points in the Geekbench 5 multi-core test, which puts it on par with the Ryzen 7 5900X. In the SPEC CPU 2017 integer and floating point benchmarks, it scores 76.6 points and 68.7 points, respectively, which puts it in 5800X territory.

Too bad the S1000 will most likely never hit the market. Baikal appeared to be planning to enter Russian markets either this or next year, but TSMC has almost certainly been forced to cancel or indefinitely postpone Baikal’s orders due to sanctions.

Last year, Baikal received only the first batch of processors from TSMC. It was just beginning to appear that Russia’s bid for a self-sufficient semiconductor industry could be realized within the next ten or two years. Now it looks like that future will never come and all we have left are some curious oddities like the BE-S1000.

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