Report: India to pursue homegrown microprocessor design

Discussion in 'Strategic Forces' started by youngindian, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. youngindian

    youngindian Senior Member Senior Member

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    K.C. Krishnadas
    EE Times
    (07/16/2009 11:55 AM EDT)



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

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

    According to a report this week in The Economic Times, the MPU design will be overseen by a new entity called the Zerone Corp., with an initial government investment of $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 Times also reported 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 operating system 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 programs 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 $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 program, 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.


    EETimes.com - Report: India to pursue homegrown microprocessor design
     
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  3. youngindian

    youngindian Senior Member Senior Member

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    Indian Government to develop ‘India Microprocessor’

    July 17th, 2009

    Interesting piece of news hit a couple of days back – Indian Government is looking to develop India’s own microprocessor. A new entity will be floated under the name of Zerone with an initial investment of $200m. The corporation will have scientists from 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 that will work on a processor that’s been referred to as India Microprocessor.

    The technical details are yet to be finalized but the India Microprocessor will mostly be based on Sun’s Open Sparc open source design with support for Linux and MySQL.

    One question that may arise from this is why would India invest chunk of money in researching and developing their own chip? The reason is security. ET who secured the confidential document claims that “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.”

    Fair enough but I think the security motive for developing processors cripples with the fact that the fabrication of chips will be done overseas, where in case of a war could lead to shut down or leak of the designs.

    The idea surely looks good on paper but going with the track record of our government, I don’t have high hopes for the plan.

    Tech Ticker | Indian Government to develop ?India Microprocessor?
     

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