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6 июня 2023

Release of an anti-sanctions PC on a rare domestic processor and with Russian Linux

Mobile Inform Group (MIG) has released a small-sized desktop PC «Akinak» with domestic processor «Skif» and OS «Alt» (Linux distribution). The computer turned out to be very energy efficient — consumption does not exceed 24 W. The motherboard is also a completely Russian development. «Akinak» is of interest to companies that are following the path of import substitution, but everything rests on mass production, which is still constrained by the lack of the required number of processors.

From Russia and for Russians

The Russian company Mobile Inform Group (MIG) informed CNews about the creation of a system unit «Akinak» based on the domestic processor «Skif», produced by Zelenograd Research and Development Center «Elvis» in 2021. The computer differs from the vast majority of conventional system units not only by the presence of «Skif» instead of Intel Core or AMD Ryzen, but also reduced dimensions, due to which it takes up much less space at the workplace.

As representatives of MIG told CNews, the development of the motherboard was the responsibility of the company’s own specialists, which makes it also a domestic solution. Also in Mobile Inform Group carried out the final assembly of the PC — this was possible «thanks to the production capacity of the full cycle and a team of specialized specialists of the company,» told CNews in MIG.

When asked by CNews about the time spent on the development of Akinak, MIG representatives said that the whole process took about a year in total. According to them, it took five months to develop and produce the motherboards, and debugging took another four months.

The name of a computer is closely related to the name of its central processing unit. Akinak is a small-sized iron sword used by the Scythians in the second half of the first millennium BC. «We decided that this was the perfect name for a product based on the Scythian CPU. We will most likely add numbers to the name when we start selling, but we plan to leave ‘Akinak’ unchanged,» MIG told CNews.

What the processor can do

«Silicon heart» of the computer, named «Skif» — is a modern development of Zelenograd research and production center «Electronic Computing and Information Systems» (RPC «Elvis»). As Anton Semiletov, CEO of NPC «Elvis» told CNews, the first engineering samples of «Skif» in the company appeared in 2019, and the first batch of 1,000 copies came off the assembly line of «foreign contract factory» in July 2021. He did not specify the name of the vendor, noting only that production could start earlier by seven months, that is, in the very beginning of 2021, but due to the pandemic coronavirus COVID-19 the timing was moved.

«Skif» is a domestic ARM processor with four Cortex A53 cores (ARMv8 64 bit architecture) operating inside at 1.8 GHz. The chip also has a trusted boot and control loop based on the proprietary controller «Multicore», dual-core DSP-cluster ELcore-50 with hardware support for signal processing functions, artificial intelligence algorithms based on neural networks, encryption. PowerVR Series8XE GE8300 video subsystem with clock frequency up to 850 MHz is responsible for graphics processing. Additionally, Skif has support for the world’s most popular navigation systems — Russian GLONASS, American GPS, Chinese BeiDou and European Galileo.

Internal contents of the computer

Together with «Skif» inside the computer «Akinak» on the motherboard soldered eMMS 5.1 module with a capacity of 32 GB, which serves as a system drive. LPDDR4 RAM of 8 GB is used, but it can be optionally expanded up to 64 GB, MIG representatives told CNews.

Expand the internal memory «Akinaka» can also be — there is a microSD slot up to 32 GB and SATA II interface for connecting a hard disk or SSD. The maximum supported volume, according to the developers — 2 TB.

There are also two M.2 slots on the board, but the developers clarified to CNews that support for corresponding SSD drives is not provided. «But if customers need it, we can implement it,» they added.

The first M.2 slot is used to install a card with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules (the module model can be selected at purchase). The second M.2 is used to install a cellular modem, including support for fifth generation (5G) networks. The base uses a SimCom 7600 module that connects to GSM, 3G and LTE networks.

All wired interfaces of the computer are brought to the rear panel. There are HDMI 2.0 output for connecting a monitor or TV, gigabit Ethernet, separate jacks for microphone and speakers, as well as two USB 2.0 ports. The power socket is also located here — there is a place in the case for a built-in power supply, but in «Akinaka» it is external. The computer consumes 24 watts of power.

«Additionally, inside will be a connector with interfaces UART, I2C, SPI, for the realization of low-speed interfaces «on demand», — told CNews in MIG.

Universal solution without foreign software

According to the developers, Akinak is adapted for standard office scenarios, including working with documents and watching videos. It can be connected to peripherals familiar to any PC user — mice, keyboards, etc. At the same time, there is no Windows in Akinak — by default, the computer comes pre-installed with the domestic Linux distribution Alt by Bazalt SPO.

When asked by CNews about the reasons for choosing this particular OS as the base OS for Akinak, MIG responded that the degree of compatibility of Alt is higher «than that of all other Russian operating systems». The company representatives emphasized that in the future other Russian Linux distributions, especially Astra Linux, could be ported to the computer.

The customers are there, the manufacturer has been found

MIG did not answer the question of who supplies other components for PC assembly besides the processor — wireless communication modules, RAM and others. «We work with different suppliers, we work directly with most component manufacturers,» the company representatives said.

Further PC production will be carried out at the facilities of Azimut JSC. The company is fully prepared to launch the conveyor belt, but everything rests on the availability of the required number of processors — as MIG told CNews, there are now only 10 copies of «Scythians».

At the same time, the demand for the PC has already been formed — MIG told the editorial office that the computer has attracted the interest of several «import-sensitive organizations,» but their names were not disclosed. «As target users, we see companies that care about information security and following the import substitution program,» the developer’s representatives added.

MIG is interested in organizing large-scale production of «Akinaks» — up to 100 thousand copies per year «with normal availability of chips,» the company told CNews.

The future is predetermined

MIG intended to use Skif as the basis not for a system unit, but for a tablet computer. «When we started development, our goal was to fulfill the requirements of the MPT (Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade — CNews note) and create a tablet based on a Russian microprocessor. At that time, Skif was the only microprocessor that could be suitable for mobile devices. But practice showed the opposite,» the developers told CNews.

MIG has a lot of experience in creating tablets based on Russian OS — for example, in 2020 the MIG T10 x86 model with pre-installed Astra Linux, but with the American processor Intel N3450 was released. A year later, the MIG T8X tablet with Intel or Qualcomm chip and Windows 10 Enterprise or Astra Linux Special Edition OS was released.

When asked by the editors whether the company plans to build new PC models based on the Skiffs, MIG answered in the negative. «We do not plan to develop developments on Skif, as it is not yet suitable for corporate mobility tasks. We are very much waiting for new versions of Russian processors with power consumption optimized for mobility. We are now actively dialoguing with another Russian chip developer,» summarized Mobile Inform Group.

Source: cnews.ru

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