Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Will it take more time for semiconductor product manufacturing from India?

This is a continuation from my previous post on Dexcel. Here, I quizzed Ravi Gujral on the IP re-use, whether India possesses an ecosystem suitable for product development, and the importance of domain expertise.

Does India have product development ecosystem?
First, the all-important issue of whether India has an ecosystem that supports product development!

Well, this is a tricky one! Several folks, including yours truly, feel that India does not yet possess an ecosystem that can support the development of product companies locally! Here, Dexcel's views are worth an eyeball!

Gujral said: "So far, India has had the reputation of being an outsourcing hub for embedded software. Now, this trend is changing and many companies are focusing of innovation and product development from India. The Indian design houses are moving beyond simple labor-cost arbitrage and becoming significant contributors to product innovation space. Many multinational companies are doing their new design and product development from their India design center.

"The Indian domestic market is driving the product innovation like in the space of mobile segment. Having said that, there are many challenges in creating an ecosystem to develop product companies like process maturity, technical in-depth know how, domain expertise and availability of qualified resources."

Gujral expressed his gratitude toward the government of India and associations such as the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), both of whom are working toward creating the ecosystem for product development.

"I am quite positive that things will change pretty soon, but it will take more time for semiconductor product manufacturing from India," he quipped.

What are the benefits of IP re-use?
On IP re-use, Gujral listed its clear benefits. "Today's modular IPs have the potential to not only address complex functionality, configurability, and performance, but also provide a solution that allows for rapid and constant change of the design requirements. IPs have become the heavily sought after component in designs due to their re-usability, possibilities of customization and easy availability."

Hardware solutions are now implemented in programmable devices rather than using a host of ASICs. Every company would like to add some customization or special feature to distinguish their product from the competition. This can be achieved to some extent by the firmware and to a large extend by using IPs on programmable hardware such as FPGAs.

He added: "Everyone is benefited because of the one-time effort of IP development and its customization/implementation to specific applications. System-on-chip (SoC), ASSP (application specific standard products), are the most benefited candidates by IP. Design houses can also deliver solutions faster and cost effectively due to the design of only the "toppings" and not re-inventing the entire requirement."

Every company has limited resources and must focus those on their core competences to maximize the added value of those resources. IP re-use helps companies to launch product faster in the market as the time to market is critical for new product.

Importance of strong domain expertise
Given Dexcel's background, it is obvious to find out up to what extent do customers expect strong domain expertise.

Gujral said: "Yes, customers always expect us to be well versed with the domains we work in. The end solutions are mostly complex, multi-domain products/systems and hence the design sub-contractors are engaged for the sub-system domain in which they are the experts."

Competing in the embedded designs domain isn't easy, and to carve its niche, Dexcel possesses both the hardware and software skill sets under one roof, supplemented with in-house CAD, mechanical housing and other related expertise to churn-out a complete product or solution. The company keeps a complete control on the project and hence, could deliver the products of quality and performance beyond customer expectations.

The company's association with technology partners is another strong point in delivering the latest technology solutions due to early access programs of the partners.

Gujral added: "Since we are under NDAs with most of the companies whose product we design, we may not be in the position to divulge the information. Largely, I would say that our successes have come in the areas of networking, imaging and semiconductor characterization platform creation technologies."

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