- Elbrus is not about "commercial success", it's a matter of technological independence.
- Thus, Elbrus doesn't exist in the same "dimension" with either ARM or x86. Imagine if Apple, having all their money and the access to IT-technologies, which mostly possessed by the West, develops a CPU of its own. Will it become just a third x86 CPU we'll be able to stick in our PCs just like Intel's or AMD's? Uh-huh, fat chance. Real chances are the
- Apple's proprietary CPU remains exclusively inside Apple's ecosystem. We don't actually see many companies trying to compete in any CPU market. There are no actual markets, but rather there are niches. Any new competitor for Intel/AMD? Any competition for ARM? Even Intel and NVIDIA failed miserably trying to get into the mobile market.
- General-purpose CPUs do not exist to please fanboys so that they could have it in their "PC-build" or to supply office workers with new electronic typewriters. They did some time ago, but not today. Now there is processing power everywhere: military equipment, industrial machinery, infrastructure management equipment, medicine, data-centers, data-centers, data-centers, consumer devices, oh, and did I mention data-centers?
Having all that said, what is the actual success criteria for Elbrus?
The development is funded by the government. The government presents the specs and requirements each CPU generation should meet. If Elbrus meets them => success. Because then it can be used to supply specified equipment with a specified amount of GFLOPs. As the architecture develops and CPU is becoming more and more capable, its possible applications widen up.
To my view, Elbrus was quite successfully developed in that fashion step by step. Elbrus models 8C and 8CB are already good enough to build a workstation or a server for data storage and running web-services. Now, it may not be as fast, or as good, but it doesn't have to. It just needs to be exactly good enough. As for the price, it doesn't even matter. Elbrus CPU being a Russian property is bought with rubles, not USDs. You buy Elbrus - you put the money into the Russian economy, not someone else's.
As the article says, Elbrus-16C is gonna be suitable for cloud servers which, again, widens up the application range for Elbrus. Now Russia can have Elbrus-based "grown-up" data-centers. And there are models for workstations (12C) and devices (2C3) in development too. All looks good, and again I will repeat: it doesn't have to compete with any CPUs in any benchmarks, it only has to be good enough. Good enough means you don't have to put an entire server rack where one other server would suffice. But if sometimes you have to put 2 CPUs instead of one into a server, then it's not a big deal.
The next step is for the government to tighten up the restrictions for its own structures when purchasing IT-equipment. An American wouldn't want the FBI to run its servers and PCs on some Chinese CPU, right? The same here. Then the same for commercial companies in which the government has a major share. It may not be as profitable from a single entity's point of view but it benefits the economy as a whole in the end.
As the production quantities will grow, the development price will spread across. Then it even could become affordable for a consumer to buy. But there is no universe for it to ever compete with the Wintel ecosystem even if it would be a miracle of a CPU. Well, maybe if Microsoft will port Windows for Elbrus and will promote it as a first-class platform so that any software and games would be optimized for the architecture, then maybe, he-he.