IESA Articles

Next-gen chips needed for Intelligent Electronics: IESA

An article written by Aanchal Ghatak & Pradeep Chakraborty – This is a big year for the Indian semiconductor/ ESDM*/ Intelligent Electronics industry. The focus for 2019 is said to be ‘Intelligent Electronics’. Speaking about the main vision of the IESA Vision Summit 2019, Rajesh Ram Mishra, President, India Electronics & Semiconductor Association, said: “The Indian technology ecosystem is striving in an era of a progressing intelligent economy with speeding changes in business models, technology innovations and acceleration. Electronics is playing a key enabler in every sector.

The main vision of the Summit is to create a blueprint for Indian ESDM industry to march towards global leadership, leveraging the rapid advancements in technology, robust domestic demand, pan India digital infrastructure and vibrant entrepreneurial culture. “The summit will focus on cohesive strategies that would help & facilitate to build a $400 billion semiconductor, electronic system design and manufacturing industry in India in the next 5 years.’

Intelligent Electronics
Now, the focus is on intelligent electronics for 2019. Haven’t the earlier editions of the show also done so?

He said: “In the earlier editions of Vision Summit, we had focused on different themes, such as “Resurgent India: Electronics, Entrepreneurship & Economy”, “Design-led Manufacturing: Redefining the future of India’s ESDM”, “Make in India: Vision to Reality”, “ESDM-2020: Product Innovation, Global Collaboration and Policy Initiatives”.

Intelligent electronics is a new phenomenon, possible due to the rapid advancements in artificial intelligence/machine learning algorithms, processor architecture to run AI computing at the edge devices, affordable sensors and universal broadband access. In a nutshell, Intelligent Electronics is born out of the marriage of AI/ML with electronics.

This gives rise to large number of new products and solutions to be built to unleash the power of Intelligent Electronics in every sector be it AI & ML, 5G, Connected Mobility, Industry 4.0, Affordable health care, Smart cities, Agriculture, Energy or sustainability.

“Companies and governments are enabling creation & deployment of Intelligent Electronics systems, taking businesses to the next level in global markets. The growth of IESA has been exponential — from focusing on creating an ecosystem of semiconductor companies in the past to creating innovative products enabling electronics.”

Focus on next-gen chips
How is the IESA going to focus on next-gen chips for data centers, AI, etc.?

To this, he added: While the global MNCs of the semiconductor industry continued to focus on chip making, a magnificent shift is happening in the next generation chip requirement. Companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft are investing heavily in new generation processor design to keep pace with business needs and scaling requirements. This is creating a huge demand for skilled VLSI engineers.

IESA has rolled out industry relevant courses in colleges through its NETRA program and is working with ESSCI (Electronics Sector Skill Council of India) for broad-basing with campuses around India. Availability of open source processors like Risc V, and the EDA tool chain have enabled many fabless start-ups in India.

These fabless start-ups are focusing on development of SoCs, accelerators, processors for AI/ML, vision systems, software-defined radio-based communication systems, AR/VR, etc. The next-gen chips are the need of the hour to cater to the increasing requirements of Intelligent electronics.

IESA has also started a first of its kind initiative called SFAL – Semiconductor Fabless Accelerator Lab, with initial funding from the government of Karnataka to support fabless companies and start-ups to Indian chips, SoCs and IPs. SFAL will help in creating a strong value chain in the country and progress of indigenous products.

Futuristic digital infrastructure
Next, what is IESA’s vision for building a futuristic digital infrastructure?

According to Mishra, the digital infrastructure is an important element in world, and is necessary to the economy and quality of life. The futuristic digital infrastructure comprises of an enhanced Internet backbone, mobile telecommunications, satellite communications, network infrastructure, data centres, cloud computing, IoT, to name a few.

The crux of the infrastructure lies in the connected world, basically, connected devices, which is possible through enhanced electronic products and software tools. IESA is working closely with various stakeholders in the government of India, namely, MEITY and DoT in policy, standards definition, promotion of Indian products, and building of test beds.

Expanding the ecosystem
How is IESA working on expanding the electronics products ecosystem across the country and states?

He said that the best way to build on the electronics products ecosystem is to create it. IESA, with the support of stakeholders from the government and the academia, have created product start-ups through the Electropreneur Park (EP) – an initiative for helping ideas turn to products.

The EP was incepted 2-1/2 years ago in Delhi University under the aegis of MeitY and STPI. The EP in Delhi has incubated 22 start ups and brought in about 7 successful exits who are product start-ups by giving them the right infrastructure, mentorship, funding, and access to market.

IESA, along with STPI, is expanding the electronics products ecosystem in similar fashion, to the east.

Along with STPI Bhubaneshwar, IESA is creating another facility to support the companies in that belt. The intent is to create such facility in multiple states, if possible in almost all the states in the coming years. The IESA is working closely with multiple state governments in establishing the electronics manufacturing clusters and helping to bring interested foreign investments in setting up electronics manufacturing units.

Finally, what can the start-ups/SMEs stand to gain from the IESA Vision Summit?

According to Mishra, the vision of IESA is to make India the global hub for electronics design and manufacturing. The mission is to bring the Indian industry, government and academia on a common platform, and jointly work towards developing and promoting value creation through innovation-led design and design-led manufacturing in India for the world.

IESA has program of nurturing 1,000 start ups in intelligent electronics and supporting building of 10,000 intellectual properties. The Vision Summit 2019 has lots to offer for the start-ups. IESA shall unveil the programs for pan India support of start-ups in the ESDM space with multiple announcements of new initiatives such as IoTOpenLab, SFAL, etc.

He noted: We have some of the top VCs and senior officials from Start-up India sharing their perspective on how to build start-ups in the Intelligent Electronics space.

“We would be showcasing chips built by fabless chip design start-ups in the Chips of India and successful ESDM start-ups across the country. The Technovation Awards will recognize promising start-ups. The start-ups will benefit a lot as the global industry player are sharing their perspective on new opportunities in intelligent electronics.”

* ESDM – Electronics System Design and Manufacturing

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