28 december 2010

Prime Minister Putin has a working meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov and AFK Sistema Chairman of the Board Vladimir Yevtushenkov

The head of AFK Sistema briefed the Prime Minister on the production of the first Russian 90 nanometre chip, which puts Russia on a par with Europe. Mr. Putin was shown the chip and the mobile phone in which it is installed. We have leapfrogged over several generations, the Prime Minister noted.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon. There's a rumour going round that you have made a prototype chip.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: Not just a prototype. Have a look at this.

Sergei Ivanov: We have brought you a present.

Vladimir Putin: The first Russian 90 nanometre chip.

Sergei Ivanov: Only this size, 90 nanometres... It's the result of a classical public-private partnership: 50% was funded by Rosnano and 50% by AFK Sistema.

Vladimir Putin: What does 90 nanometres mean in practice? Where does it put us in relation to competition in Europe?

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: Let me put you in the picture. The technology that went into making this 200 mm plate costs over 500 million dollars.

Vladimir Putin: How does it compare with our partners' achievements?

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: It means first that we have achieved the European level. No manufacturer in Europe, no microelectronics company can produce chips smaller than 90 nanometres. Second, it paves the way for several things: biometric passports, GLONASS chips and special technology....

Vladimir Putin: Space and rocket technology...

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: And so on and so forth. It increased the range of uses dramatically. It lends great meaning to the conference you chaired several months ago on the development of Russian microelectronics because we are getting our own microelectronic base. So we can now manufacture all the equipment (consumer electronics and special equipment) that used to be produced on the basis of foreign microelectronics because in effect we own this technology.

Note that Mr Chubais and I promised you to develop this technology within a year. He certainly did not believe it was possible, and no one believed it at the time. It was basically a gamble, certainly on my part. Amazingly, we have done it. We have statements and expert opinions from foreign companies that work in microelectronics, to the effect...

Vladimir Putin: Everything has been certified.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: Mr Ivanov has looked at all the certificates to make sure that everything is in order.

Vladimir Putin: When will serial production start?

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: It will take several months (maybe three or four months) to give it the finishing touches before it goes into commercial production because it is complicated stuff. What are the possible uses?

First example. What you are holding in your hand is actually the world's first phone with a GLONASS/GPS chip. There is another side to it because it matches iPhone4 in practically all its functions. Except that iPhone 4 supports GPS and this thing supports GLONASS/GPS. When you switch it on you see the screen. Mr Ivanov, show us the instructions.

Sergei Ivanov: First I must say that Mr Yevtushenkov is planning to start serial sale of this first competitive GLONASS/GPS navigator on March 1, if I am not mistaken.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: That is correct.

Sergei Ivanov: 500,000 of them at once.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: We can make as many as people are willing to buy.

Sergei Ivanov: The price is 10,990 roubles, which is quite competitive. Most importantly, the use of that chipset and that technology provides outdoor navigation accuracy of 93%. In comparison, a GPS set has a navigation accuracy of 64%, that is, we have increased accuracy by a third.

Vladimir Putin: You can release it by the March 8, Women's Day, so that women could always find out their husbands' whereabouts.

Sergei Ivanov: We'll certainly do it. I am not sure everyone will be happy though.

Vladimir Putin: It will locate the exact point on the map where the husband is at that moment.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: These are two breakthroughs that were made this year. A lot of work lies ahead. But these are two real breakthroughs. First, it means commercial use. Now GLONASS is not only for you or Sergei Ivanov. Everyone who buys a phone will see a display of GLONASS/GPS, the satellite image, the number of GLONASS satellites... A full-screen image of how many GLONASS satellites there are. GLONASS satellites are red and GPS ones are green.

Sergei Ivanov: Let me show you. When the screen is turned on it shows how many GLONASS and how many GPS satellites are in orbit. No cheating: the picture is absolutely accurate.

Vladimir Putin: It would have been even more reliable if we had not lost three satellites. When will this be restored?

Sergei Ivanov: The Federal Space Agency plans to have them back in operation within three months. But it makes no difference for the country's territory because Russia is completely covered anyway.

Vladimir Putin: We launched the European satellites and botched our own launches.

Sergei Ivanov: It just proves that Proton is a reliable carrier rocket.

Vladimir Putin: It is reliable all right. But we could have done without these losses.

Sergei Ivanov: But one block was not up to scratch...

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: So I think we have made two breakthroughs which ...

Vladimir Putin: Anyway, when it comes to space, there are always losses. But as regards microelectronics, we have made a major step forward. When we discussed it three years ago, you did not sound so optimistic.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: No. It was uncharted territory.

Vladimir Putin: In fact we leapfrogged over how many... two or three generations?

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: Five generations. And we have plans to move further.

Sergei Ivanov: Yes, we have plans and I would like to report briefly...

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: Two or three years ago you approved an investment project to build a "45-65 nanomicron factory". That is on the world cutting edge...

Sergei Ivanov: It is the most advanced level globally.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: ...with potential for further progress. This is world level. We launched it as an investment project. It was put on hold, of course, because of the crisis. Honestly, we had no time for this investment project. Now, considering its success, I think we should not rest on our laurels because Moore's law in microelectronics is relentless. You cannot slow down for a second, it is constant tension, constant challenge. I think we should start on the "45-65 nanomicron" project in 2011 if we are to establish a solid presence in the global microelectronics industry club. That provides a strong basis for all the talk about innovation because this is a fundamental ...

Sergei Ivanov: The investment fund has earmarked money for the "45-65 nanomicron" project. It was just that we were not ready at the time. We had not yet reached 90. Now we have. I agree with Mr Yevtushenkov that we must launch the investment project in the second six months of 2011, or at the start of the following year at the latest. The work is to be carried with the money reserved in the investment fund. The electronic component base is key because size 45-65 is intended for the defence industry. Size 90 fits 70% of the world commercial products market: telephones...

Vladimir Putin: It's a great gift for the defence industry too.

Vladimir Yevtushenkov: Another important thing I wanted to say is that this is not just for show, this is competitive. First, it is cheaper than the European product, in terms of price and cost. Second, it can compete with South Asian wares.

Vladimir Putin: Well, congratulations and thank you.