The chance Is Great For Engineers And Entrepreneurs Getting Into Chip Design


Electronics and semiconductors are occupying headlines throughout the globe. What are the learnings for our {industry}? What are the important thing alternatives opening for India? To search out out solutions to such questions we spoke to {industry} veteran Venkata Sudhakar Simhadri, CEO of MosChip. Listed here are some extracts of our dialogue.


Q. How would you outline your journey with respect to the evolution of the semiconductor {industry}?

A. I’ve been within the {industry} for the final 30+ years, beginning my profession at Silicon Valley. The semiconductor {industry} had its personal ups and downs. There have been occasions when semiconductor corporations had been shedding folks. We had some degrowth or stagnant occasions in between however, general, the {industry} continued to develop.

Throughout my early days in Silicon Valley the expansion was fuelled by the PC {industry} adopted by networking and communications. Fabless start-ups like Broadcom and Qualcomm did very nicely and grew quickly.

The subsequent wave got here by means of cell phones and mobile {industry}. Because the cellular {industry} began getting mature, the rising fields like IoT, 5G, electrical automobiles and ADAS, and synthetic intelligence began creating extra alternatives for start-ups in addition to established gamers. The VC funding into semiconductor start-ups has been choosing up within the final 5-6 years.

Once I began my profession in 1990, the transistor sizes had been 1.0 micron and at this time the identical transistor dimension is 5nm. So, the {industry} is rarely in regular state, it’s always evolving, and the journey continues to be thrilling. India by no means performed a number one function in semiconductor {industry}, however issues are altering. The semiconductor designers in India are pretty much as good because the expertise in in different elements of the world.

Nevertheless, we nonetheless don’t have any giant semiconductor product corporations out of India, aside from a number of start-ups making an attempt to break-in. However I strongly imagine that it’s going to vary. The chance is large for the engineers and entrepreneurs who’re stepping into this discipline. They only want to choose the correct alternatives and keep targeted.

Q. Whereas many of the chip design work that occurs in India is focused for international markets, are there any low hanging fruits which might be growing into a serious market in India?

A. There are a lot of alternatives for addressing native markets. Merchandise like set-top bins, sensible meters, LED lights are all good examples. Cars, particularly two-wheeler EVs, is one other quick rising section. One other instance is safety cameras with built-in AI capabilities. These are all large-volume markets in India that may present chip corporations a chance to develop India-centric chips and carve out a distinct segment.

Q. How do you see edge computing enjoying a job in set-top bins?

A. IESA (Hyderabad chapter) not too long ago hosted a two-day summit on synthetic intelligence. Edge computing was an vital subject in the course of the summit. The consensus is that each digital machine on the sting goes to have some AI constructed into it. A set-top at residence can create a personalised consumer expertise with built-in AI capabilities.

Q. What’s your view on the RISC-V phenomenon that’s changing into a rage within the chip-design eco-system? What are your views on it?

A. I believe it’s gaining a variety of momentum. At MosChip, we’re additionally fairly enthusiastic about alternatives RISC-V can open for us, particularly in India. ARM has been the main processor for cellular and IoT purposes and I believe they made good progress into server market as nicely. ARM is within the technique of getting acquired by Nvidia. Nations like India and China are targeted on self-reliance and have began investing in RISC-V.

Just a few weeks in the past I had an attention-grabbing assembly with Professor Kamkoti of IIT Madras. (The timing is a pleasant coincidence wrt what we’re speaking about.) IIT Madras has been doing good work and investing lots in improvement of Shakti processor. In parallel, MosChip has been growing an edge-computing platform round RISC-V and we do see alternatives.

Quite a lot of work nonetheless must be carried out to make RISC-V a viable various to ARM. MosChip will work carefully with IIT Madras and assist Indian authorities initiatives in the direction of indigenous processor platform.

Q. For native semicon majors to develop, many declare that we want a fab in India. What’s your tackle this subject—ought to India make investments?

A. In case you take a look at the entire provide chain, many of the chip corporations at the moment are fabless corporations anyway, together with corporations like AMD, Broadcom, and Qualcomm. None of them have their very own fab. Most of them get their chips fabricated at TSMC, GlobalFoundries, and others. And the packaging and testing of the chips is completed by means of different companions.

Packaging and testing of the chip (normally referred to as ATMP or OSAT) addresses 30% to 40% of the chip value.

ATMP facility, which doesn’t value as a lot as a fab, can assist create a neighborhood eco-system and assist native fabless start-ups or multinationals working out of India.

Q. With a variety of buzz round scarcity of semiconductors, what are the alternatives opening up for India, if any?

A. The Indian authorities has invited ‘Expression of Curiosity’ to arrange fabs in India. I do see alternatives in some specialty fabs, however it is going to take time for India to make vital contribution. And it wants a targeted effort for the subsequent ten years and sustained efforts thereafter.

Q. How do you see the evolution of Moore’s Regulation? Will it stay related?

A. It has remained related for longer than the {industry} anticipated. In my very own profession, I’ve seen the transistor shrinking from 1 micron to 3nm. The starvation for extra computing will proceed to innovate new transistor buildings and new applied sciences like quantum computing.

Q. Whereas semiconductors are powering AI and ML, are AI and ML enabling R&D, improvement, and manufacturing of chips too? Are they going to play an vital function sooner or later?

A. AI and ML definitely created R&D alternatives to develop new architectures for dealing with the particular computing and information processing wants of AI purposes. AI is altering the best way the information is saved, processed, and dealt with (safety). I do see AI enjoying a job in semiconductor manufacturing as nicely, to enhance each effectivity and reliability.

Q. Are you able to share some particulars in regards to the MosChip Institute of Silicon System? Who does it goal—freshers or {industry} professionals? And does having your individual institute assist in getting industry-ready expertise with out having to put money into coaching them?

A. Coaching has been my ardour since 1999, after I was operating TTM (Time to Market Inc). We had been the primary firm in India to supply Bodily Design coaching. The staff from the Institute of Silicon Programs has recreated and carried out a greater job; the Institute is now part of MosChip. We’re endorsed as the perfect Bodily Design coaching institute in India at present, and we provide comparable coaching in RTL Design/Verification, Analog Design, and Embedded System Design.

A lot of the engineers who come to our institute are freshers and the coaching prepares them to begin contributing in design, with some handholding from seniors. The institute definitely helps us in recruiting the expertise and, the truth is, we let different product and design companies corporations additionally recruit from the coaching institute.

Q. There was a latest announcement with respect to a give attention to Flip-key ASICs. What has modified or goes to vary now?

A. When MosChip was began round 1999, it was truly a product firm. It was the primary fabless semiconductor firm out of India, designing and promoting their very own chips. The chips had been principally connectivity primarily based for USB, PCI, Ethernet, and many others. MosChip obtained the chips fabricated principally at UMC and bought them in hundreds of thousands. So, it was a real product firm promoting chips with their very own emblem on it. However, sadly, for numerous causes, the corporate needed to divest that group and began specializing in the design companies.

Once I took over the function of CEO at MosChip, I evaluated the strengths of the organisation and got here with a long-term technique. Flip-key ASIC was one space we actually needed to give attention to. Turnkey ASIC permits us to construct and promote merchandise as an alternative of pure play design companies. MosChip has carried out turnkey ASICs for the Indian authorities with an ARM processor and different connectivity interfaces. The ASIC was truly fabricated at TSMC and we delivered the working elements to the Indian authorities; the ASICs had been focused in the direction of handheld purposes.

The experience of designing an ASIC and taking into manufacturing remained with MosChip, serving to us with the turnkey ASIC technique.

Q. Am I appropriate to know that slightly than simply be a design home, you now need MosChip to be an ODM for ASICs?

A. Sure, proper now we’re already giving the design to the client. So going ahead, we are going to truly give the chip to the client. We’re already doing that with a small variety of clients, however we need to give attention to large-volume clients.

Q. There appears to be a variety of buzz round Wearable IoT—what are the alternatives opening up on this area for chip corporations? Additionally, any Ips being developed by your agency particularly for this market?

A. Sure, MosChip is working with a buyer on ASIC platform with embedded MRAM. We taped 1st silicon in TSMC 22nm. For Embedded purposes, on-chip reminiscence primarily based on rising NVMs like MRAM can present higher entry pace and low energy which could be very engaging for AI chips for edge gadgets like wearables that work with restricted energy availability.

Q. For this new division introduced, has there been a hiring of a brand new completely different type of expertise having extra expertise with respect to design in manufacturing capabilities and likewise with engaged on edge computing purposes and many others?

A. In case you take a look at our firm proper now, we’re fairly robust in designing the chip, testing and validating the chip. There could also be some areas the place we want some outdoors assist (the fabrication, packaging and testing the chip is outsourced in any case ) and we’ve got constructed robust third occasion relationships.

Our present interface IPs are an vital value-add to our clients. And our IP companions like CEVA, SecureIC and others carry extra worth to our finish clients.

Q. You talked about a authorities challenge, which is thrilling, however am I appropriate to imagine that majority of the shoppers can be international proper now and hopefully India will develop some clients? Or are you anticipating progress of income from Indian clients too?

A. Proper now, most of our clients are multinationals. However we do really feel that there are some purposes in India that may assist giant sufficient volumes to do customized chips for them and the market is rising quick in India. We hope to see some success tales within the native market.

Q. How was the COVID section for MosChip and the way did you handle your operations in the course of the lockdown interval?

A. I don’t assume it’s one thing particular to MosChip. Each, IT and semiconductor design firm in India has confronted an identical scenario. In reality, we had been one of many first corporations in Hyderabad to grasp what was occurring and began implementing make money working from home. We had been fortunate in that facet and had been capable of get some laptops prepared in time for the engineers to make money working from home. I need to say that many of the engineers tailored nicely, and so they had been spending extra time than what they normally do to satisfy deadlines and labored across the issues associated to connectivity, speaking with their friends and managers.

Nevertheless, it was extra burden for the challenge managers and lead engineers, as a result of they’d spent extra time to conduct common conferences and monitor the progress. The staff has carried out an exceptional job in delivering the initiatives on time and our clients have been extraordinarily comfortable about it.

We began getting again to places of work not too long ago with restricted capability and taking sufficient precautions for the protection of the employees.

Q. If every part goes again to regular, will you asking all of your engineers to return again to workplace? Or will you be giving them the pliability to make money working from home?

A. We are going to by no means be capable of do 100% work-from-home. We desire to have majority of the work-force in places of work for environment friendly communication and challenge administration. Nevertheless, there’ll all the time be exceptions.

Q. You talked about IIT-Madras earlier, are you additionally doing some other challenge with the academia? We’re seeing a variety of high-tech corporations have a really aggressive join with academia to have the ability to entry their sources, their labs and the folks. Is there already some technique already at play or are there plans to do one thing on these sides?

A. IIT-Madras is the primary premier institute in India, I had a dialogue with. I had some interactions with Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, however on a special context. There are some good institutes in India that are doing invaluable analysis and I’d proceed my dialogue with them. Even in IIT-Hyderabad, they’re doing analysis in 5G that we are able to faucet into.

Q. There are loT of design homes–from India and different nations–that are specializing in chip design and ASICS. How would you place MosChip as distinctive?

A. Allow us to take a look at the Indian market itself. There are a lot of corporations at Bangalore and Hyderabad which offer design companies, however most of them give attention to staffing enterprise. I’m not saying that Moschip doesn’t do it, we additionally do it. However the important thing distinction is that MosChip is among the few corporations that really invests in EDA instruments, design flows and automation setup in the home. We’re the one firm that may take a 5nm or a 7nm design all the best way from specs to the fab utilizing our personal design flows and methodologies.

Connectivity IP (SerDes) is certainly one of most complicated constructing blocks in a chip and I’m proud to say that Moschip is the one firm in India with manufacturing confirmed serDes.

One other distinction with MosChip is that we’re promoting our personal merchandise with Moschip emblem. We now have 2 IoT merchandise targeted on smart-lighting and Telematics which might be delivery in volumes. Our Telematic is utilized by a multi-national buyer for industrial purposes.

Q. What’s your goal for the subsequent 12 months? What would you want to realize?

A. Since I got here on board, I made few adjustments, protecting in view of our core strengths. Scaled down in few areas and refocused on the core areas. We continued to put money into IP and R&D. I really feel the outcomes are exhibiting up steadily. The numbers are talking for themselves. My quick aim is consolidate what we’ve got carried out and proceed to develop steadily.

Q. What’s subsequent for MosChip? What’s the last word ambition?

As I instructed you earlier, MosChip was a product firm. We had our personal merchandise with our emblem. Moschip had its personal model. It’s our imaginative and prescient to do ASICs that go into giant volumes. Our dream and imaginative and prescient is to supply one cease service for full SoC improvement and MosChip turns into true silicon associate to our clients.


 



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