The Democratization of Chip Design in India

May 04:Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) with its series of graded and proactive steps, is in the process of a systematic overhaul of the semiconductor design approach at 120 premier academic institutions across the country to debut an era of creative enablement where anyone with innate skills, anywhere in the country can get the semiconductor chips designed. In the process, chip design will be democratized in line with the vision of  Prime Minister Narendra Modi that – Design in India is as important as Make in India.

Understanding chip design as a strategic necessity, a pilot deployment was successfully tested by MeitY earlier in 2021 under Special Manpower Development Programme for Chips to System Design (SMDP-C2SD), wherein a centralized design facility at C-DAC was enabled for remote access by over 50,000 engineering students at 60 academic institutions for designing chips. Leapfrogging, MeitY now intends to make accessible a centralized chip design infrastructure to be made available at the India Chip Centre setup at C-DAC, to train 85000+ B.Tech, M.Tech, and Ph.D. students at 120 academic institutions across the country in the chip design area for next 5 years.

For making available the chip design infrastructure at India Chip Centre (C-DAC), leading industry vendors from EDA (Electronic Design Automation), Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD), IP Core, and the Design solutions Industry are being partnered. Specific collaborative arrangements are being made available with Synopsys, Cadence Design Systems, Siemens EDA, Silvaco & other leading tool vendors, IP & design solution providers, and Fab aggregators.

A centralized design facility hosted at India Chip Centre (C-DAC), not only the most advanced tools for the entire chip design cycle (i.e. Front-end design, Back-end design, PCB design & analysis, etc. for Digital, Analog, RF & Mixed Signal designs), going up to 7nm or advanced node but also an arrangement of instructor-led/ online training on design flows by industry professionals are being made available for next 5 years.

This centralized facility at India Chip Centre (C-DAC), one of the biggest existing facilities, offering a plethora of design flows, aims to bring the chip design infrastructure to the door-steps of over 85,000 students at 120 academic institutions. Taking advantage, several academic start-ups will mushroom across the country, cross the initial entry barriers and pave the way for entrepreneurship/ startup-led design & innovations ecosystem in the country making indigenous IP Cores, Chips, System on Chip (SoCs), Systems for different application areas like 5G/ IoT, AI/ ML, Automotive & Mobility sector, etc. in India, for the World.

As SemiconIndia 2022 concluded successfully last week, most of the global semiconductor leaders (like Intel, Micron, Qualcomm, LAM Research, etc) not only highlighted the contribution of their Indian R&D centers, which are now the biggest centers out of their headquarters locations but also acknowledged the semiconductor design strength in our country, which now makes up for 20% of the world’s engineers.

Shri Ashwini Vaishnav, Minister for Electronics & Information Technology envisions making available a design talent pool of highly skilled engineers for turning India into a semiconductor hub through the Chips to Startup (C2S) Programme and other initiatives in Semiconductor policy. This will strengthen & supplement the Indian talent pool by designing the leading-edge chips for semiconductor giants with complete ownership of some of these chips in the country. Speaking at SemiconIndia 2022, he highlighted that India’s democracy and talent pool sets it apart from other countries fighting for chip sovereignty.

Many co-development pacts were announced at SemiconIndia 2022 last week by Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology including the Digital India RISC-V (DIR-V) Program, aiming to catalyze India’s semiconductor ecosystem. These announcements, coupled with the fact that India has just scored a century of Unicorns this week and the steps are taken to democratize the chip design across the country, shall trigger the next wave of Startups and unicorns from the semiconductor design space in the country.

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