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AMD and Intel reportedly are suspending processor shipments for industrial use to Russia

Intel Core i9-11900K review
Intel Core i9-11900K review (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • A new report claims Intel and AMD are suspending sales of industrial processors to Russia.
  • The companies would be following new rules set by OFAC and BIS on selling technology to Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
  • The ban would not apply to consumer devices.
  • TSMC, which manufactures Russian-design chips, reportedly complies with new export control rules against Russia.

A new report from RBC claims Intel and AMD have "verbally informed Russian manufacturers" that both companies are complying with a ban on the supply of processors to Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. That ban on technology and exports is set to take effect on March 3, although the reporting by RBC suggests Intel and AMD have already halted supplies.

Additionally, according to RBC, partners in China have been informed by Intel's local office about the ban on the supply of processors to Russia.

The information aligns with recent sanctions imposed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). For its reporting, RBC relied on two sources in the IT market but further confirmed the news with a "representative of the Association of Russian Developers and Electronics Manufacturers (ARPE)."

An Intel spokesperson in Russia did respond to RBC and stated "the company is closely monitoring the situation and ensuring compliance with applicable sanctions and export control regulations, including new sanctions imposed by OFAC and rules issued by the BIS." BIS is the Bureau of Industry and Security under the U.S. Department of Commerce.

However, if accurate, it's important to note that Intel and AMD's ban of chip shipments to Russia does not involve "consumer communication devices," including personal computers, mobile phones, digital cameras, and more. Instead, the ban on importation and sale of processors only applies to industrial usage by either private companies, government entities, or those expressly sanctioned by the U.S. government "including the president, prime minister, deputy prime ministers, federal ministers, State Duma deputies and members of the Federation Council, editors-in-chief and deputy editors-in-chief of state media."

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

The ban could significantly hurt Russia's economy in the long run as companies won't be able to upgrade, replace, or expand server usage for cloud computing and data storage. The same applies to the use of "supercomputers" for heavy data processing. Exceptions could be made if companies apply for and are approved for export licenses, but that process could drag on for months or longer.

Interestingly, Russia has a growing processor business of its own, including the MCST Elbrus-8C server CPU. Still, it has been panned by critics as "very weak" compared to Intel's Xeon 'Cascade Lake' processor. Moreover, like many microprocessor companies, the Moscow Center of SPARC Technologies (MCST) does not make chips but instead only designs them. Taiwan's TSMC is the manufacturer of the Elbrus, and in a Reuters report, TSMC noted it would comply with new export control rules on Russia, jeopardizing that backup plan. However, as of now, the chip foundry has not officially told Russian authorities that it will block the production of Russian processors.

If the ban takes effect, it remains to be seen what other routes Russia could take to procure processors. Going through China seems the most apparent path, especially since both countries have a close strategic alliance. Nonetheless, even going through backchannels and leveraging re-export maneuvers, prices for such components could surge by 30% for Russian companies to obtain such technology, according to RBC.

Questions also remain on the distinction between consumer and industrial use of devices, including pre-assembled computers, and how U.S. companies will navigate the sanctions.

NVIDIA, one of the world's largest and most significant suppliers of GPUs for services, AI, and industrial use, has so far not commented on the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)'s new rules. Similar calls for Microsoft to ban the exportation of software to Russia have also been made, although the company has had no comment thus far.

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

27 Comments
  • Another meaningless sanction... Russia is perfectly capable of making industrial level chips by themselves. Those are relatively large compared to what we see on smartphone or pcs.
  • "Russia is perfectly capable of making industrial level chips by themselves. "
    Ignorant statement. They absolutely are not. What fab exists in Russia that can manufacture high-end server processors? And if they could, why are they currently using TSMC? And who's chips? Because MCST is turning out mostly crap. The BAIKAL-S is interesting, but it's manufactured, again, by TSMC. It's a 2022 chip that compares favorably to an Intel Xeon from 2017. I guess that's something? Russia's tech and industrial sector pales compared to Taiwan and is nowhere near where US chip design is currently.
  • Either way takes place on March 3rd more than enough time to stockpile a year or two worth of chips.
  • Not really. The reporting by RBC claims Intel and AMD have already stopped sales. Additionally, "Chinese partners are already receiving notifications from intel's local office about the ban on the supply of processors to Russia."
  • China will be more than willing to funnel chips to Russia as they are food and supplies to North Korea and fentanyl to US via Mexico.... Just sayin'!
  • Is Russia worth that much to them, I don't think so. At best, they are frenemies, at worst, well that's another story for another time. Some semiconductor funnelling will eventually happen... But nowhere near the scale required to make up for the loss Russia experiences via normal distribution, CCP won't want to do that.
  • I believe you're right about the scale, but from China's perspective, anything that busies, weakens, or distracts the US and the West from what it is doing is a good thing. Therefore, for their own unrelated reasons, it is in their interest to quietly assist Russia. Mainly, I think China wants to see what we are able to do to Russia, to gauge our ability to impact them if they go for Taiwan.
  • That's somewhat true. However, the quandary the CCP faces is that many companies use China as a manufacturing factory. So, if these factories were forced to stop production (practically overnight) due to sanctions China's economy will plummet and could ultimately result in regime change. In regards to Europe, if anything this should hasten the speed towards renewables and green energy as the very definition of the infrastructure enforces self reliance. As the greater the distance electricity has to travel, the more energy is required in order compensate for loss due to heat and resistance. Therefore, substantially reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and by extension natural gas from Russia. Ideally, that infrastructure should have been in place by now but that goes into the tangent of lobbying by immoral fossil fuel companies and their actions of keeping the world dependent on fossil fuels just for profits. Speaking of which they are continuing to make increasing profits and now they are willing to squeeze everyone else for more profits. Which they will ultimately use to greenwash and the backdrop of Putin's actions provide a convenient excuse. Going back to the CCP, it's imperative that drastic sanctions are placed on Putin himself along with all his representatives in his govt that support his madness at the very least. To provide a deterrent to the CCP that these actions would not be longer tolerated. If drastic measures and sanctions were taken on him when Putin went after Georgia. Things wouldn't have gotten to this point. But, that's history and nothing will change that. Any action now, will still tragically result in a loss of countless lives. Right now, pressure needs to be applied in getting the opposition released. As there are only two ways this madness ends, Putin takes over Ukraine and we end up with WW3 after a few tenuous years whilst Putin re-groups or there is an insurgency within Russia that finally removes Putin and his cronies. As I said before any action now will still tragically result in countless lives. The question unfortunately has become how many lives will be lost? So, we all must do what is reasonable and practically possible to support Ukraine in their hour of need.
  • TechFreak1, I agree with most of that, certainly with the main points you're making and conclusions on supporting Ukraine. On a less critical point, while this may hasten the move toward renewable energy sources (which I agree would be good), those simply can't come online fast enough to make up for the losses and electrical storage technology is insufficient for those to supply all the needed power today. I hope we see a return to nuclear power that Europe had (in my opinion) foolishly tried to abandon. For me, it's not as clean as solar or wind, but cleaner than fossil fuels. More important, it's able to provide huge amounts of CONSISTENT electrical power for the grids, which in turn make electrical vehicles more cost effective, which is the main component to a transition away from fossil fuels. That said, I don't really have much against fossil fuels -- they're currently effective and still fairly cheap, and as they are depleted they will naturally become too expensive due to scarcity anyway, which will in turn move us to other forms of power in a more rational way than the current "sky is falling" frantic, expensive, and highly inefficient scramble.
  • Excellent article. Thank you for the clear coverage and addressing the impact and possible alternatives available to them.
  • As someone who lives in Europe I feel Putin is being able to make this move because of the chaos created by the forced vaccination mandates and covid passes (the latter which 'advantage' against Covid has been debunked by various universities, so absolutely useless while still discriminating), and regarding the former I would suggest taking a look at dr John Campbell's videos on YT). Meanwhile the chaos continues and governments on both sides seem to be powerlust. Makes me sad where this world is going towards to.
  • It's a shame you have no clue what you're talking about...
  • I realize the above is an unpopular opinion but if you live in Europe and have seen the protests you know what I am talking about, this is not something I just made up. There IS division (see my comment below).
  • Ochhanz, your comment is irrelevant, irreverent, misinformed, and addresses literally nothing in this article. Update: Ochhanz, I'm deleting your follow up comment because: It's off-topic This is not the place to talk about COVID vaccine mandates/protests Your theory is boorish and rudimentary This article is about Intel and AMD not supplying chips to Russia. It is NOT about how and why the war started, which is why your comment is off-topic. If you have something to say about Intel and AMD not shipping silicon to Russia, or how Russia may get around such restrictions, by all means, participate. Otherwise, take your comments elsewhere. Thank, you.
  • "irrelevant/It's off-topic", it is relevant at least to some degree, that you do not want to see the connections that I made quite clear in my last comment is a different matter (and as I said it is not the only reason, but it does create a window of oppertunity). "irreverent", not really, its just that for you the subject is taboo apperently. "misinformed", I really just see the protests with my own eyes so how can this even be misinformed? The rest of is mostly just quoting peer reviewed medicine journals (besides it being possibly be a bit offtopic I do not see how this is misinformed lol, if anything the latter are one the most thrustworthy sources of information these days). "This is not the place to talk about COVID vaccine mandates/protests", ok fair enough.
  • please go back to high school
  • What a childish response. I would suggest reading my above comment to Daniel, maybe you misunderstood my comment above (as in I am not saying it is the only reason, just that it is creates a window of opportunity).
  • I also live in Europe, and I can fairly say that you are just pushing propaganda in the interest of Putin. So, in that regard, your comments about Covid are related to this article. But you should be ashamed of yourself, you are profiting off people that are suffering and dying.
  • Thanks, I laughed out loud.
  • Your post easily makes the all time top 2 or 3 worst comments I've ever seen on a WC article. Hilariously misinformed, or just stupid? Most likely both.
  • This is why you don't want to outsource/offshore all your production. Things change and you can be left with an empty bag/cart/shelves/warehouses/tanks ...
  • Interesting. I took it to be why you don't invade a sovereign country without just cause.
  • American idiocy. You guys are pushing Rusia more and more near to China. Instead, you should support an strong Rusia independent from China. But no. If it not democrat, social democrat or a second class european country, then it is an enemy.
  • Ou Zero, I agree with your point on working to separate Russia and China (and that our current government seems too focused on paying political thank-yous to its most radical supporters to pay attention to these matters of global stability), but Putin's interests in Ukraine stand on their own. Based on his own words over the decades, this seems likely something he has sought -- reforming as much of the USSR as he can -- since before he rose to power after Yeltsin. Meanwhile, China will naturally court any country able to be a thorn in our side. In any case, given where things are today, I'm pleased at the Intel and AMD move, whether that's something they volunteered or it were "requested" of them by the government.
  • The West sat back and ignored Putin's clear statements of his long-term plans. China and Russia share similar strategic ambitions. Russia (ie Putin) wants to recreate the Russian Empire. China wants to dominate Asia and has clear global ambitions. The West can sit back and let them pursue these goals. The result is clear for everyone to see. The US has made a clear decision. No chips and other technology will be exported to Russia. While not full proof, it will hinder Russia from pursuing its strategic goals. China can take the hint about its use of force and try to play nice. Further, the rest of the world can see how Russian words are matched to their actions. It is not too difficult for countries like Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam can see how the future may play out and are more likely to move towards the West than closer to China. American idiocy was not arming Ukraine faster and better after Russia took Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine. Losing access to computer chips is small potatoes compared to the loss of access to many other technologies, banking services, and other normal economic and diplomatic access. At the end of the day Russia is a country of 140 million down from 145 million in 1990 and headed to 125 million by 2100. Meanwhile the population of the US rose from 125 million in 1990 to 320 million today and headed to over 500 million by 2100. Russian leadership has a lot more issues to deal with than buying computer chips.
  • Well said, ddn123. Good long-term view. One minor possible point of disagreement (very minor), I don't think we can reliably predict population growth over the next 80 years, at least not without the big qualifier of "if nothing changes," just because population movement trends to track toward economic growth regions, and we can't predict what political policies will be over that time to free or quash markets.
  • Obviously, there are some mistakes in my numbers. Russia has a population of 145 million today, little change over the last 20 years. Of note is the report of 1.4 million live births and 2.5 million deaths in Russia last year. The US Population in 1990 was 250 million and now exceeds 230 million. Of note is the 2 million plus illegal immigrants to the US over the last 2 years, not to mention the number of legal immigrants. The US population will rise to exceed 500 million in 2100 while Russia's population will slowly decline towards 120 million. Putin my want to resurrect the Russian Empire and may think Russia has a strategic role in the World. But he is delusional. I just wonder what will happen to Russia's influence in world as this war drags on. I don't think he will walk away. Thus, the war will become nasty. AS far as technology transfers etc., Russia is reliant on the world and not likely to enjoy access to technology for a long time (24 months is a decade in today's information-based world). But again, eliminating Russian bank access to the SWIFT system will do far more harm to Russia's ability to buy computer chips than preventing Intel from shipping chips to Russia. Russian currency has collapsed. I wonder what an Intel chip would cost in rubles after today? 40,000 rubles? The typical annual income in Russia is 880,000 rubles or $8,800 at current exchange rates. I don't see many Russinas buying new computers soon.