BENGALURU, India India's embedded design industry emerged here earlier this month during the first Embedded Systems Conference (ISA) here. Local observers said ESC was a watershed event for India's embedded industry.
ESC India, which is sponsored by EE Times' owner CMP Media, was likely the first platform-agnostic embedded design conference and exhibition of its scale to be held here. Previously, there there was no specific event addressing India's embedded community.
Big Indian tech firms like Wipro Technologies, TCS, HCL Technologies and Mindtree Consulting have focused on the embedded market, but it is the spread of embedded design that made the event more signficiant.
"That the ESC has now been held in India means that India is on the global stage of the embedded industry," said Poornima Shenoy, president of the India Semiconductor Association. "Embedded services account for 81 percent of the jobs in the Indian semiconductor space and for about $3.7 billion, [or] three-fourths of the $4.6 billion in semiconductor design revenues in 2006," Shenoy said.
Texas Instruments, which has two R&D centers in India, and Intel Corp. were among the sponsors of the event. Both are trying to develop solutions for the growing local market. Intel has launched an India Design House Program aimed at leveraging its embedded architecture portfolio to help local design companies develop products for the domestic and global markets.
Sanat Rao, marketing director for Intel Technology India
said Indian designers have focused on "key embedded segments such as security and surveillance, automotive infotainment, medical imaging and communications."
"Some of the major trends we see in embedded are multicore processors, increased connectivity and richer graphics," Rao added. "We believe the 'interactive-client' segment is rapidly growing in India. These are basically systems where a user directly interacts with the embedded device."
Anil Gupta, managing director of ARM Embedded Technologies said the embedded market is at an inflection point due to the fundamental change in computing architecture from single processor to multi-processor architectures. "It's a great opportunity for India and the Indian engineers in the embedded space to look at this new paradigm of parallel computing and parallel programming," Gupta added.
Indian companies have launched embedded products, but few have been commercially successful, said Rajeev Agrawal, CEO, Innoviti Embedded Solutions. Innoviti launched a Zigbee-based point-of-sale terminal under its own brand name. "Indian companies in the embedded area typically work on IP or components within products, but not the total end product."
According to Agrawal, two platforms gaining momentum here are ARM's and the TI/Analog DSP for signal processing. "There is a huge opportunity [for Indian embedded companies] around the low-end controller platforms for control applications," he said.
Several Indian companies are in stealth mode attempting to launch their embedded designs. Market researcher Frost & Sullivan expects the market here to grow to $5.3 billion next year and to as much as $11.9 billion in 2010.
"Embedded software is the logical extension of system software that India had mastered in the previous decade. Here we need to understand more at register- level details of semiconductors while applying the same principles of software," said S. Janakiraman, CEO, R & D services, Mindtree Consulting Ltd.
"We will start seeing Indian companies announcing products in their own brand name, and that is not far away," added Janakiraman, who is also ISA chairman.
Executives with fabless semiconductor startup Saankhya Labs said they see few entry barriers to the embedded software services business, one reason often cited for India's growth in the market. "It is possible to set up a company with relatively small amount of funds" in India, said Vishwa Kayargadde, co-founder and CEO of Saankhya Labs, based here. "Even small design services companies in embedded software can get contracts. This helps the embedded software companies to boot-strap and grow."
Launching ESC India, Richard Wallace, editorial director of CMP's Electronics Group, said "the intention is to recreate the Silicon Valley ambience in terms of networking opportunities and educational possibilities. India is rapidly emerging on all three frontsconsumer, supplier and designer.