T-Platforms, a Russian company that once planned to build an exascale supercomputer and homegrown CPUs, was declared bankrupt this week as the cost of the company’s assets was lower than its obligations. T-Platforms was one of a few companies in Russia that could build world-class high-performance supercomputers. The main reasons for the bankruptcy are not sanctions by Western countries but rather Russia’s attempt to replace Western technologies with its own.
T-Platforms was established in 2002 to build servers and supercomputers that would be competitive against offerings from the likes of IBM and HP. Over the years, T-Platforms developed some of Russia’s highest-performing supercomputers based on AMD Opteron, Intel Xeon, and Nvidia Tesla processors. For example, the company’s Lomonosov supercomputer, based on 33,072 CPUs, was ranked the No. 18 most potent machine in the world and the No. 3 supercomputer in Europe.
Eventually, the company expanded business outside Russia and established offices in Hannover, Germany; Hong Kong, China; and Taipei, Taiwan. However, the company ran into troubles with the U.S. Department of Commerce in early 2013 when the latter accused T-Platforms of selling supercomputers to military end users and nuclear research, contrary to U.S. national security. As a result, T-Platforms was delisted from DoC’s Entity List in late 2013 – early 2014.
But after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014 and faced the first round of sanctions, the government kicked off programs to develop microprocessors and other chips in the country to replace x86 offerings from AMD and Intel. One of the companies meant to create Arm-based system-on-chips for PCs aimed at government agencies was Baikal Microelectronics, a subsidiary of T-Platforms established in 2012.
Baikal Microelectronics secured government subsidies to speed up the development of homebrew processors and servers. However, while Baikal Microelectronics has managed to design several Arm and MIPS-based processors, whereas T-Platforms started to sell some of its new servers in Russia, they failed to deliver their products on time. As a result, the Russian Ministry of Trade sued Baikal in 2019. Meanwhile, the chief executive officer of T-Platforms was arrested in March 2019 as his company failed to deliver about 9,000 Baikal-based PCs to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It is when the company started to fire personnel and fold its operations.
Eventually, T-Platforms had to sell its 60% stake in Baikal to Varton in October 2020, reports CNews. The company filed for bankruptcy in October 2021. In December 2021, the Moscow Arbitration decided to introduce an external monitoring procedure for T-Platforms. Vsevolod Opanasenko, the former CEO of T-Platforms who faces ten years in prison, plans to file for bankruptcy himself. Some media reports indicate that he used to control 75% of T-Platforms, whereas the remaining stake belonged to the Russian government.
At present websites of T-Platforms and Baikal Microelectronics are no longer operational.