Govt to chip in with India Microprocessor

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by Dark Sorrow, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. Dark Sorrow

    Dark Sorrow Respected Member Senior Member

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    NEW DELHI: The chips may have been down at India’s computer hardware sector for some time now, but an ambitious government programme is looking to change that.

    Top scientists at some of the country’s ace scientific institutions are pooling energies, and the government some money, in an attempt to design a home-grown microprocessor, which they hope will ward off the rising threat of espionage into strategic segments like defence, telecom and space.

    The project to make the India Microprocessor, as it is being tentatively called, will see scientists from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and IIT Delhi coming together under the aegis of the department of IT.

    An entity, to be called Zerone Corporation for now and with an initial investment of $200 million, will carry out the project, according to a government official involved in the process. A draft proposal in this regard is likely to be presented to the cabinet soon requesting funds, the official said on condition of anonymity.
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    Zerone, which will start operations from the facilities of a government-owned company, is also expected to give a leg up to India’s struggling semiconductor industry.

    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.

    However, the current plan has national security as the first priority, especially after reports of a global network of Chinese hackers breaking into sensitive installations worldwide, including the headquarters of Dalai Lama in Dharamshala and telecom networks in the UK. Just a week ago, South Korea had complained of an organised effort by North Korea to hack its government network.

    The government document, a copy of which is with ET, presents several such scenarios. If the Indian Army's WAN (Wide Area Network) is cut off from other networks, hypothetically the army’s equipment can still be activated wirelessly by foreign parties to transfer information or compromise it, the document says.

    “Unless India has its own microprocessor, we can never ensure that networks (that require microprocessors) such as telecom, Army WAN, and microprocessors used in BARC, ISRO, in aircraft such as Tejas, battle tanks and radars are not compromised,” the document points out.

    It further cites recent UK reports that have raised concerns over importing a Chinese telecom major’s equipment for use in Britain’s telecom network, which may lead to espionage or a shut down during a war.

    A consultative process is already on to decide the chip architecture and finalise the final name of the corporation along with other modalities. The revenue source of Zerone is likely to be from the sales and support of microprocessors and by providing training on the advanced technological architecture.

    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.
     
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  3. Dark Sorrow

    Dark Sorrow Respected Member Senior Member

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    The Indian government reportedly plans to bring together top engineers to design what is tentatively being called the "India microprocessor."

    One of the design programme's goals is helping to ward off what the government sees as the growing security threat poised by using commercial microprocessors in military, telecommunications and space systems.

    According to a report in The Economic Times, the MPU design will be overseen by a new entity called the Zerone Corp., with an initial government investment of 20 crore ($200 million).

    Engineers from various Indian research and technical institutes will work together on the chip design project, which will be managed by the federal Department of Information Technology.

    The report, quoting unnamed sources, said a draft proposal will be presented soon to cabinet ministers seeking project funding. The report also said that a proposal mentioned that "unless India has its own microprocessor, we can never ensure that networks [and weapons] are not compromised."

    Designers will likely adopt Sun Microsystems' OpenSparc processor design technology (the open-source version of Sun's UltraSPARC T1 and T2 microprocessors) along with the Linux OS and MySQL open-source database software. The government is also reportedly concerned about future availability of foreign chip technologies. That concern prompted it to set up Zerone, which is looking to recruit 400 designers.

    Poornima Shenoy, president of the India Semiconductor Association, said national security concerns dictate the need for a homegrown chip design. "It will also catalyze the local industry built around design activities," Shenoy said.

    A senior chip industry executive here familiar with government programmes told EE Times that the government's plan was flawed. "It is a mere regurgitation of old plans that went nowhere. When Intel x86 technology and Sun's Sparc technology were offered to the respective government departments in the past, they [did] not even bother to reply," he said.

    "Why can't we get x86 technology and design it? Or get an ARM core and design around it? You do not need 20 crore ($200 million) to design a chip. A few engineers from a local company like Wipro can design one. How will a government department keep a processor technology alive and support it. Nothing will come out of this programme, just as nothing came out of such plans in the past," the executive said.

    India's chip design industry focuses heavily on captive chip designs for overseas customers. Hence, these companies have no claim on intellectual property developed during the design process.

    Earlier Indian chip initiatives fizzled. The so-called "Fab City" planned in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad to house private wafer fabs has largely switched over to solar energy projects.

    The report said Zerone's revenues would come from microprocessor sales and support along with providing training for future chip designers. India also lacks a major chip foundry. The report did not address whether the government would use an overseas foundry to fabricate the projected microprocessor.
     
  4. Dark Sorrow

    Dark Sorrow Respected Member Senior Member

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    Indian Government to Invest $200mn in Building it’s own Microprocessor

    Indian Govt. has announced $200mn investment in building the ‘Indian microprocessor’. The core idea behind building an Indian microprocessor is to rely less on commercial microprocessors in military, telecommunications and space systems, more so after reports of a global network of Chinese hackers breaking into sensitive installations worldwide (Dalai Lama in Dharamshala and telecom networks in the UK)

    The project will see scientists from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and IIT Delhi coming together under the aegis of the a newly formed organization called Zerone Corp.

    If at all India manages to develop this chip, it can also be used for developing low-cost mobile phones as well as high-tech defence precision systems.

    Specification

    Designers will likely adopt Sun Microsystems’ OpenSparc processor design technology (the open-source version of Sun’s UltraSPARC T1 and T2 microprocessors) along with the Linux operating system and MySQL open-source database software .

    The Reality

    This isn’t the first time Indian govt. has announced a big bang plan of launching it’s own chip. Also, the much hyped ‘Fab city’ which was supposed to house private water fabs have now moved to solar energy projects.

    Is this another bureaucratic sale in the name of technology? Only time will tell.
     
  5. Oracle

    Oracle New Member

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    Going great and in the right direction. I wish them all luck, but yes time will tell . _=..i2-=
     
  6. Dark Sorrow

    Dark Sorrow Respected Member Senior Member

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    An R&D division of the Indian government is in line to receive about $45 million before June to fund the development of its first 64-bit microprocessor. The project would become the second in India to design a CPU based on the RISC-V instruction set, following the Shakti designs in the works at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras.
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    The projects show the increasing sophistication of India’s semiconductor sector. However it’s not clear if either effort will result in commercially deployed products, and both face challenges retaining skilled chip designers at a time when engineering salaries in India are rising and job hopping is common.

    If funding is released as expected, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), a branch of India’s Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, could tape out a 64-bit RISC-V processor in about 30 months, said Biju C. Oommen, a senior manager in C-DAC’s chip design unit. The team consists of about 70 engineers who have designed a wide variety of 8- to 32-bit processors and SoC blocks.

    The team has worked on chips for both government and commercial users ranging from an energy metering IC to a digital programmable hearing aid and an automotive controller. C-DAC was created in 1988 to develop supercomputers after the U.S. banned export of the systems to India and expanded to cover a wide variety of high tech projects.

    The VLSI team plans to design a quad-core processor running at up to 2 GHz. “This is more complex than any other processor we have designed, we have not taped out anything beyond a 32-bit processor to date,” said Oommen.
    [​IMG]

    The design could deliver variants for a wide range of public and private customers. Targets could include tablets or gateways for the Internet of Things.


    [​IMG]
    An R&D division of the Indian government is in line to receive about $45 million before June to fund the development of its first 64-bit microprocessor. The project would become the second in India to design a CPU based on the RISC-V instruction set, following the Shakti designs in the works at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras.

    Separately a team of about 30 designers at IIT Madras has been working for more than two years on a family of 32- and 64-bit open source processors based on RISC-V. The work started about five years ago under the name Shakti which means power because the chips originally used IBM Power cores.

    The Shakti project now includes plans for at least six microprocessor designs as well as associated fabrics and an accelerator chip. A significant amount of code for at least two of the RISC-V parts is now available, a high-end out-of order design and a simpler three-stage processor geared for IoT.

    “We focus on IoT devices partly because that’s a buzzword, there’s a requirement in India for them and most volumes are there, be we also have a five-stage pipeline design for higher end embedded stuff,” said G. S. Madhusudan, a principal scientist working on the project at IIT Madras.

    The team hopes to have Linux up and running on one of the cores in an FPGA implementation this summer. The design is still in an early phase such that “you wouldn’t want to tape it out,” he said.

    [​IMG]
    The Shakti S is a 2-16 core 64-bit RISC-V processor for servers and desktops.




    The project also has a mandate from its funders to help develop an alternative ecosystem for servers in India, driving its high-end designs.

    “It’s not necessarily to replace Intel…I am a server guy…and where else would you get to work on a processor to compete with Xeon,” he said.

    The team includes three senior engineers new to academia with much of the work done by students and post docs. The budget is fairly modest, with typically less than $20,000 a year spent on salaries.

    That said, Madhusudan said he expects at least one startup will be formed soon to develop a variant of a Shakti chip targeting government requirements for high security. A so-called tagged instruction set would create a chip with the memory address of each location tracked in a design similar to one in the works by Draper Labs for the U.S. government.

    The development of a new server “will take some more time but there are significant needs in the India defense department where they have ambitious plans including three aircraft carriers in budget,” he said.

    An accelerator in the works for big data analytics could become more important than another server processor. Researchers in Madras and Purdue University have scoped out a concept for a neuromorphic accelerator that does not use the RISC-V ISA but would use a custom open source core and use one of the RISC-V processors as its host.

    Among other microprocessor efforts in India, funding of about $50 million for research on neuromorphic cores is said to be coming together for academics in Bangalore. In another effort, researchers at IIT Bombay are said to be at work on a smaller Sparc V8-based processor design.



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  7. sasum

    sasum Atheist but not Communists. Senior Member

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    Please keep giving updates..
    @Kshatriya87 @Indx TechStyle @warrior monk
     
  8. Dark Sorrow

    Dark Sorrow Respected Member Senior Member

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