Wednesday, June 19, 2024

“If there’s a threat to Android – it’s fragmentation caused due to rapid proliferation”

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You mentioned that chip design was one of your key verticals. Is there any particular segment you focus on?
Well, without doubt our biggest segment would have to be the cell phone and tablet market. We are associates to some of the biggest players in this segment and continue to look at improving by leaps and bounds. In the processors segment, we are among the national leaders in graphic, arm-based and general compute server industry processors. As far as consumer electronics go, we work with video based graphics required for gaming. In Connectivity, we have good experience in fields from TDRS to PCI Express to Ethernet max.

What factor drives performance for next gen mobile processors? We have seen insane clock speeds, multiple cores, and the ever lowering process technologies. Is there something else?
The most significant impact to next gen processors will be in innovative architectures. Certain applications, like imaging/video/gaming, needn’t have the processor to be 100% accurate (unlike mathematical calculations etc). There are novel processor architectures that are propounded wherein the accuracy of the output are traded off for speed, performance and power consumption. Dropping a pixel among millions will not be “visible” to the naked eye but such tradeoffs can have meaningful impact to power, area and performance.

Could you elaborate on some of the design tools you use?
As far as chip design goes – we have licensing agreements with the leading EDA providers viz. Synopsys, Mentor Graphics Metagraphis, Cadence and Magma (recently acquired by Synopsys). So we have EDA tools with top industry leaders to work on both in-house and customer projects.

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For a company which undertakes so many projects, your design team must have come across an interesting technical challenge. Could you share it with our readers?
Well, we recently completed a 22nm hi-voltage LDO project for a large company. It required a complete change in system architecture. We could not take a previous generation architecture and then scale it down, especially in analog designs. Our team was responsible from paper specification to the product layout for being put on a shuttle. We had to develop the template; go through several variations and changes and the design team had to come up with very innovative architecture to overcome the technical barrier and meet the original requirements of the LDO. We proposed multiple architecture and after extensive testing closed in on the right one. We finished it and it’s on a test chip waiting for the silicon to arrive and the whole team couldn’t be happier.

Do you see the demand in any product from a specific vertical enjoying tremendous increase?
The obvious answer is Smartphones. The telecom industry has undergone rapid growth. I don’t believe it has saturated yet. In terms of new subscribers and replacement of existing handsets, we still see a great demand and an upward trend of getting the latest phones. Many of our leading customers are in the telecom field and we end up providing them solutions. So specifically for India, the telecom industry has a lot of potential.

When do you think we will reach a barrier with the current silicon technology w.r.t process technology?
I personally am surprised that Moore’s law is still prevalent and continues to exist. I think with the 20nm requiring double patterning of process technology, I think it has crossed the barrier. It is amazing that even for a 22nm technology, the industry uses 193nm lithography. EUV(extreme ultra violet lithography) is still not prevalent. More than process technology, lithography is becoming a challenge. The whole industry has to move on to EUV. There are already customers pushing us to embrace 14nm technology. When we have to deal with angstroms and atoms to make a difference, that’s when nano electronics and single electron tunneling will come into the picture. I see Moore’s law being prevalent for at least 5 more years (which is a lot w.r.t semiconductor technology).


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