“A bit of India inside every embedded product”

By : |August 1, 2003 0

BANGALORE: “Silicon and the semi-conductor industry is a space where India can occupy the global number one spot if we strive for it enough” asserts NASSCOM Chairman Som Mittal.”There is already a whole lot of work that is happening in that area and we should push more to ensure that in the future we can say with confidence that there is a bit of India inside every embedded product” he adds.

Such sentiments were echoed by all the participants of the Town Hall meeting on ‘Moving India up the value chain: Semiconductor and Hardware Perspective’ conducted by NASSCOM in Bangalore today. “There is a whole new opportunity waiting for us in the semiconductor space. It is for us to take over the end-to-end R&D of chips instead of sticking to providing just parts of a solution,” said New Path Ventures LLC co-founder & managing member Vinod Dham.

“In fact, if we begin now with providing complete solutions to specific clients and then work upwards, India could have its first commercialized, mainstream product in the silicon-semi conductor space in the next five years,” he added.

Insilica: India President & CEO, Ananth Agarwal goes on to say that, business models that were blindly adopted in the prosperous times of the 90s, have now come under increased scrutiny during the downturn which resulted in an appraisal of spending areas. He also explains that, in between the huge volume areas of consumer chips and microprocessors, lies the grey area of networking and telecom companies, where the volume goes down, consequently increasing the cost of design. “Our cost advantages coupled with the reverse brain drain creates an immense opportunity to move India to the next plateau in hardware and chip design,”he adds.

Agarwal also pointed out that while design of chips in the US could cost around $25 million, working 90 percent offshore and 10 percent onsite could bring down the cost to less than $10 million. With such numbers, while the company working from the US will take five years to break even, the other model will ensure break even in less than two years, he said.In reply to several questions on the competition posed by China, all the speakers reiterated that India should work on its existing strengths of software development and design instead of venturing into manufacturing which remained China’s main strength.

“We missed the boat of silicon manufacturing. Had we ridden the wave then, it would have made sense to capitalize on it” said Dham. Though pointing out that China’s initiatives to increase their pool of knowledge workers would take some time to deliver numbers, he cautioned that India must act soon to capitalize on its lead before China gets to enough numbers to challenge it seriously.

Replying to a question on what could go wrong in this process of beginning indigenous chip design, New Path Ventures LLC co-founder & managing member Tushar Dave said, “India is on a service drug. We have almost given up the habit of creating something of value, so used are we to the less risky job of providing services”. He also exerts that “we have to move out of our addiction, get off the service horse and go on to innovate, take risks and reach out to the market”. Both Dham and Dave stressed that New Path Ventures would work to start the trend of producing home made chips and that for the near future they would be looking at chip design on all fronts, while investing into further research, based on the trends and needs of specific times.


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