Before the Sanctions, Russian Manufacturers Created Some Incredible 48-core Arm SoCs

Baikal Electronics, a Russian chip producer, was halfway through developing an SoC series that ranged from eight cores to forty-eight when Russia invaded Ukraine and welcomed sanctions that destroyed its embryonic semiconductor sector.

Baikal, however, had already received multiple prototypes of its most recent (and perhaps final) SoC from TSMC when the sanctions were announced. Somehow, they made their way into the hands of a Russian enthusiast, who in turn sent them to Fritchens Fritz, a really gifted chip photographer.

The BE-S1000 is a huge system on a chip. There are 48 Arm Cortex-A75 processors within, making it ideal for use in servers. It has a 120W TDP and an all-core clock speed of 2 GHz. It’s a massive 607 mm2 in size and was produced at the TSMC 16FFC node.

Twelve compute clusters, each with four cores and four 512 KB blocks of L3 cache, are arranged in a circle around the heart of the SoC. Each core has its own personal 512 KB L2 cache in addition to two separate 64 KB L1 cache banks. The L4 cache, totaling 32 MB, is laid out in a 4×4 grid in the heart of the SoC. There are a total of 86 MB of cache in the CPU, split amongst its 48 cores as follows: 24 MB of L3 and L2 cache, and 6 MB of L1 cache.

The input/output (IO) controllers are located around the edge. Five PCIe 4.0 x16 controllers are located on the left and right sides, with three of them functioning as CCIX 1.0 modules to support 2-way and 4-way SMP (symmetric multiprocessing). There are a total of six memory controllers, two at each end of the motherboard. Each memory controller can handle up to 128 GB of DDR4-3200 ECC memory over a 72-bit channel.

In addition to its outstanding specifications, Baikal also boasts some amazing performance metrics. Just a few slides long, it evaluates the S1000 in relation to the 20-core Intel Xeon Gold 6148, 16-core AMD Epyc 7351, and 48-core Huawei Kunpeng 920. The results show that the SoC performs about on par with AMD and Intel processors but only 85% as fast as Huawei’s very comparable Arm-based SoC.

Before the Sanctions, Russian Manufacturers Created Some Incredible 48-core Arm SoCs
Before the Sanctions, Russian Manufacturers Created Some Incredible 48-core Arm SoCs

An outstanding Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 14,246 points places the S1000 on pace with the Ryzen 7 5900X in terms of raw performance. Spec CPU 2017 gives it an integer score of 76.6 and a floating point score of 68.7, putting it in the same ballpark as the 5800X.

To bad the S1000 will never see production. Baikal likely had plans for its release in Russian markets this year or next, but TSMC, under pressure from the restrictions, has likely canceled or indefinitely postponed those plans.

Baikal’s first shipment of processors from TSMC didn’t arrive until around this time last year. Russia’s hopes of developing its own semiconductor sector were just beginning to show signs of success. There is no longer any hope for that future to materialize, leaving us with just curiosities like the BE-S1000.

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