Govt. to aid chip designing in India

By siliconindia   |   Friday, 17 July 2009, 05:18 Hrs   |    6 Comments
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Govt. to aid chip designing in India
Bangalore: Since India is yet to make its mark in the microprocessor market, the government is trying to change this scenario through its new initiative. The project to be funded by the government will see top scientists from across the country come together, to design the microprocessor that is tentatively called the India Microprocessor. Through this initiative, the government also hopes to defend against the rising threat in strategic segments like defence, telecom and space by using microprocessors that are developed outside India. According to The Economic Times, Scientists from top India institutes like the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and IIT Delhi will work under entity called Zerone Corporation. Zerone will start operations from the facilities of a government-owned company with an initial investment of $200 million. According to a government official, a draft proposal in this regard is likely to be presented to the cabinet soon requesting funds. Demand for microchips from India's booming technology sector is expected to touch $315 billion by 2015, but a semiconductor policy of previous years to encourage firms to manufacture them locally evoked little interest from the private sector. The India Microprocessor is likely to adopt Sun Microsystem's Open Sparc open source chip design technology, along with Linux operating system and MySQL database software. According to Ramkumar Subramaniam, Vice-President for Sales and Marketing at AMD India, private companies would like to work with the government on this. "A similar partnership was forged by AMD with the Chinese government for licensing key x86 microprocessor technology that helped them develop embedded computer solutions," Subramaniam said. The chip could also help India develop a low-cost mobile phone, worth say just Rs 500, high-tech defence precision systems and a host of other applications in areas including healthcare and weather forecasting. Initially, the land and building would be provided by the government while the company will be 80 percent owned by the government and 20 percent by employees. However, the fabrication of chips will be outsourced to a private foundry overseas, as India still does not have one. Over the next two years, the stake is proposed to be relaxed to 49 percent for government, with 31 percent to be held by private IT hardware companies and the corporation's strategic domestic customers. The proposed company is expected to hire only Indian nationals to work on the project, with an aim to make use of the available potential in the country for this ambitious project.