A laptop based on the Russian-made Baikal M1 appears in pre-production

Bitblaze, a Russian brand specializing in servers, storage systems and workstations, introduced its pre-production Bitblaze Titan BM15 laptop based on the Russian-designed Baikal-M1 processor. The laptop, designed primarily for government agencies and enthusiasts, is expected to go into mass production in November. The only question is whether the company can actually mass-produce the machine now that TSMC does not produce advanced chips for any company in Russia.

“I have a legend in my hands: a pre-production bitblaze titan (opens in a new tab) laptop based on the Baikal-M processor is ready,” said Yana Brush, chief commercial officer of Prombit, the company behind Bitblaze, in a blog post (opens in a new tab). “Very decent build quality, thin and light aluminum casing. I’ve tested some consumer software applications: desktop programs and YouTube. Works great, lasts five hours on battery. We’re continuing testing in various loads work, preparing for the official release.”

The Bitblaze Titan BM15 is a 15.6-inch laptop powered by Baikal Electronics’ Baikal-M1 (BE-M1000) system-on-chip equipped with 16GB DDR4 memory (up to 128GB supported) as well as a solid 250GB to 512GB state drive in an M.2 form factor. The machine has almost everything one would expect from an entry-level laptop, including Wi-Fi + Bluetooth adapter, GbE, USB 3.0 Type-C connector, four USB Type-A ports, an HDMI display output and a 3.5 -mm audio connector.

The Bitblaze BM15 laptop comes in an aluminum chassis, but the exact dimensions and weight are unknown. At the end of March 2022, the expected weight was around 2.2 kilograms (4.85 pounds) (according to a 3DNews (opens in a new tab) report), but as the BOM was not finalized at that time, the final weight may be different.

(Image credit: Bitblaze)

The machine pictured on the company’s website (which looks like Apple’s MacBook Pro 13) differs wildly from the pre-production version Yana Brush is holding in her hands in the photo. The pre-production model looks like cheap 15.6-inch mobile PCs that go for $399-$499 at BestBuy. On the other hand, in some cases, the pre-production units do not show the final design as is the case for software compatibility tests. Keeping in mind that the company does not disclose which Linux distributions the machine will run, it should test various software.

Despite its name ‘Titan’, the BM15 is far from offering the performance expected of a laptop with such a name. The heart of the Titan is the Baikal-M1 SoC, which uses eight outdated Arm Cortex-A57 cores running at 1.50 GHz and equipped with an 8 MB L3 cache accompanied by an eight-cluster Arm Mali-T628 GPU with two display pipelines. The Cortex-A57 first appeared in a commercial product in 2015, while the Mali-T628 (Midgard 2nd Gen) has been around since 2014. The Baikal-M1 is manufactured by TSMC using one of its class nodes 28nm. Still, since TSMC no longer produces chips for Russian companies, we can only wonder if Baikal Electronics has pre-purchased enough SoCs to support commercial launches of the Bitblaze Titan and other products.

Another aspect of the Bitblaze Titan notebook is the price. In March, the company expected the aluminum version of the product to cost between 100,000 and 120,000 rubles ($1,375-$1,650 without VAT), but the BOM has not been finalized, so the final price may be different. That’s a lot for a desktop machine but maybe not a lot for a collectible with a very rare SoC.

“There’s a chance to buy one of the pre-production samples, it’s expensive,” Brush said. “Or rather wait [mass produced units], which will be released in November at the earliest. We are accepting pre-orders.”

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