Russia's latest 28nm Elbrus-8SV processor completely flunked on game tests

Written by Guillaume
Publication date: {{ dayjs(1675616438*1000).local().format("L").toString()}}
This article is an automatic translation

A processor that should allow Russia to free itself from certain American technologies. Well, not immediately, you will see.

Since the beginning of the year 2000, Russia has realized how dependent it was on certain technologies over which it had no control either in design or production. This is particularly the case for semiconductors, and since March/April 2010, important decisions have allowed the emergence of a technical innovation center in Skolkovo, not far from Moscow. Teams there are working on a large number of projects, which have taken on even greater importance now that Russia has fallen under multiple international sanctions. It is in this context that the teams of the Moscow Center of SPARC Technologies (MCST) first released the Elbrus-8S and then, recently, the Elbrus-8SV.

The latter is still far from the standards of the processor according to AMD or Intel. It is a CPU engraved via the 28 nm process of TSMC. It has 8 cores with an operating frequency of 1.5 GHz and an L3 cache shared between the cores of 16 MB, but we will not know more for the moment. On the other hand, we do know that there is talk of deploying a raw power of 576 GFLOPS in single precision and 288 GFLOPS in double precision. The Elbrus-8SV is designed to be paired with DDR4-2400 with error correction and the YouTube channel Elbrus PC Play decided to equip 32GB of it for its test machine. A machine that also benefited from the support of a Radeon RX 580 graphics card.

Thus equipped, the PC was able to run a game like The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002) almost normally: we're talking about an animation speed of between 30 and 200 frames per second depending on the complexity of the scene. On a more recent game like S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (2008), we were already talking about an average of 30 frames per second when its sequel - S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (2009) - had to deal with even less flattering results, barely 10 frames per second on average. Logically, we tend to blame the graphics card, the Radeon RX 580 is not a monster. Yet, with the same card associated, an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 achieves 6 to 7 times higher performance (65 fps).

Of course, a processor like the Elbrus-8SV is not designed to run video games, which are designed for other components. However, the PC used was running on Elbrus OS 7.1, a Linux 5.4-based system, and the games in question are clearly not very demanding. We can feel the difficulty of designing powerful chips ex-nihilo. That said, MCST is far from giving up: it has already validated the next step in its work and even if it seems to be in difficulty to produce it, the Elbrus-16C is ready. The CPU is etched in 16nm and with its 16 cores clocked at 2GHz, it would deploy 160% more raw power than the Elbrus-8SV with 1,500 GFLOPS in single precision and 750 GFLOPS in double precision.