The state import substitution program spurred Russian developers to create solutions that are not inferior in quality to well-known Western counterparts. Among them are single-board computers developed in Russia, which can be actively used in various industries related to critical information infrastructure and ensure import independence. Sergey Dementyev, CEO of the company, spoke about the development of the Russian minicomputer market in an interview with Live News Planet
Where are single board computers used?
Sergey Dementyev: The scope of single-board computers is quite wide. In industry, they are used as controllers in process control systems, in telecoms – as crypto gateways or other devices that solve non-standard tasks, for example, in the field of information security, in retail and transport – as multimedia systems when creating electronic shelves or information panels. They can also be used as minicomputers at home. In principle, these are ordinary computers, only compact ones.
Sergey Dementyev: Until recently, mainly Taiwanese, Chinese and European manufacturers were represented in Russia. Products from Europe and Taiwan are of very high quality. Chinese is notable for its low cost, but its quality often leaves much to be desired.
Due to the unstable situation in the world, it was decided to ensure import independence in critical areas and do everything possible to replace imported equipment with domestic ones. The first step in this direction was the use of products of domestic design and production, but on imported element base due to the lack of domestic analogues. The next step is to switch to domestically produced processors. In the future, there is a desire to obtain devices designed and manufactured in the Russian Federation entirely from domestic components. Of course, this will require a serious development of Russian microelectronics in the field of technological and production capacities.
How long has your company been in the business of single board computers?
Sergey Dementyev: ATB Elektronika is already 15 years old. For 5 years we have been creating our own Development Center, the result of which was our first single-board computer. We plan to significantly strengthen this area, approximately twofold, based on the number of developers.
We started out as a supplier of printed circuit boards and electronic components from Europe, Asia, America, which allowed us to get the necessary start for the purchase of equipment and the opening of our own contract manufacturing plant. Then they were engaged in contract development, and now they have grown to manufacture their own products. It took five years to gain competence in this area. Now we have developed and launched the serial production of single-board computers under our own brand.
What is the level of localization of your devices?
The ATB-ATOM platform was manufactured using an Intel Atom processor, but the entire project – circuitry, printed circuit board topology, design drawings, embedded software – was developed by ATB Elektronika specialists. The element base, for the most part, is imported, but the body, installation and assembly, setting, adjustment, testing, packaging are domestic. In addition, a domestic microcontroller K1986BE92QC from Milandr is used, which performs general control of the motherboard.
Of course, we are looking towards the manufacturers of domestic processors, first of all, at the companies Baikal Electronics and MCST – suppliers of universal processors “Baikal M” and “Elbrus-8SV”. At present, prototypes have already been created on the BE-M1000 processor by Baikal Electronics, we are debugging them and preparing for testing. The release of this platform is scheduled for the end of the year.
The version on “Elbrus-8SV” is at the stage of development of circuitry, tracing of the printed circuit board and preparation for the release of the first prototype. The release of the platform at Elbrus is scheduled for 2022.
What customers are you targeting?
Sergey Dementyev: Our minicomputers are designed primarily for use in industrial automation systems. Another area of application is the protection of information in the telecom. It is there that a high level of import substitution is required.
How competitive are the solutions you offer compared to those already on the market?
Sergey Dementyev: When developing a business plan, we took into account that the market requires models of a certain capacity with a certain number of interfaces. We analyzed the market, assessed the solutions of the main suppliers of platforms for the information security market and created a universal solution that combines the best qualities of foreign counterparts and is supplemented with the functionality required by companies involved in the development of software to ensure the security of information transfer. It is this market that we consider as the main one for our products.
We have tried to optimize our solution in terms of cost. Of course, we cannot compete on price with Taiwanese manufacturers yet. But compared to other Russian companies offering similar solutions, our platform is significantly cheaper.
But most importantly, our solution can be used to build critical information infrastructure. At the moment, we have prepared and sent to the Ministry of Industry and Trade a complete set of documents, including source codes of programs and design documentation, for entry into the register of products of domestic design and production.
Which customer do you already work with?
Sergey Dementyev: At the moment, preliminary agreements have been concluded with several players in the Russian information security market. All of them are waiting for the platform to be entered into the register of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, which will make it possible to use it when building a critical information infrastructure.
Tell us more about the ATB-ATOM platform.
Sergey Dementyev: We offer a line of ATB-ATOM minicomputers for use as crypto gateways in critical information infrastructure. They differ in the number of interfaces, power and functionality. The main feature of ATB-ATOM is additional tools that help to ensure trusted downloads, and the tools required for crypto protection.