BANGALORE, India India lacks experienced chip designers to meet the needs of its growing design services business, and the outlook is bleaker for analog chip design skills.
Of the estimated 10,000 to 12,000 design engineers in India, there are only about 400 analog designers with a minimum of three years experience, according to the India Semiconductor Association (ISA).
Technical institutes and government-owned research centers are the current, though limited, source of analog skills. The alternative is "to pay more and poach experienced analog designers from other companies," said Sunil Sherlekar, head of embedded systems with Tata Consultancy Services, based here.
"Analog designers are just not there, and it is a very serious problem. Six-month courses may help but analog design cannot be taught the way digital design can be as it needs more practice. How can we create integrated designs if there aren’t enough analog designers available?" Sherlekar asked.
ISA said more emphasis is needed on opportunities for analog designers and the challenges of doing analog design.
"We need to give more visibility to analog skills, which in turn make more good engineers take up analog design as their preferred area of work," added ISA President Poornima Shenoy.
Most design firms here now hire engineering students and train them in-house, a costly but necessary process. "We hire from the Indian Institutes of Technology, the National Institutes of Engineering and train them internally," said S. Karthik, managing director, India Product Development Center, Analog Devices India Pvt. Ltd.
The shortage has become so acute that that attracting experienced analog engineers back from the U.S. is now an option. Like India, China and Taiwan also lack sufficent analog talent, Shenoy said.
The heavy emphasis here on software development also contibutes to the analog gap. "Even within hardware, digital design is emphasized as it is more glamorous and has more job openings," said Karthik. A short-term solution is certificate courses, but long-term engagement with universities, improving faculty and a curriculum that is more design-oriented are needed to overcome the deficiency, he added.