Medical devices, embedded systems, home automation system and Internet of things all offer many opportunities for innovation. – Jaswinder Ahuja of Cadence India
Ever wonder how the tiny chips that power our gadgets are designed and checked before they are manufactured? Electronic design automation (EDA) is the software that electronic designers use to handle the complexity of modelling and verifying advanced semiconductor chip and system.
Cadence India, a subsidiary of US-based Cadence Design Systems, is a leading provider of EDA solutions globally.
Jaswinder Ahuja, Corporate Vice-President and Managing Director of Cadence India, talks about the growth of the India design centre and the exciting opportunities for innovation.
Can you give an overview of Cadence operations in India?
Cadence was an early entrant in India’s semiconductor and electronic design ecosystem, establishing operations in 1987. Currently, our India centre accounts for around 25 per cent of the global headcount - the second largest after US. We have offices in four cities with Noida having 900 employees, followed by Bangalore with 400. Pune and Hyderabad centres have 70 and 20 employees, respectively. The India operation works on electronic design automation (EDA) software, Intellectual Property (IP), technical support for global sales and corporate IT.
How has the India centre grown and what are the areas of focus?
We hire mostly from the industry and also do some campus hiring. Some of our headcount growth such as in Hyderabad and Pune was from acquisitions. The industry is facing a talent crunch and so is Cadence – sometimes we take six to nine months to fill a position. We do a lot of training and development investment in our people, enhancing their skill set in advanced technology.
How was the last year for Cadence India?
2013 was an exciting year with two acquisitions. We acquired Cosmic Circuits, an interface IP provider founded in India. The other one was Tensilica that makes re-configurable processor cores, with major operations in Pune.
With the new initiatives to launch start-ups and incubation centres, how do you see demand for your products?
The move is certainly very positive. As more designs happen, we have more opportunities for tools and IPs that these design houses will use. We work one-on-one with each start-up and tailor our offering to their need. Start-ups can have cash-flow issues and pricing issues. Besides these, there are other five or six vectors that concern start-ups and we finetune our offering to address them.
We cater to customers who work on the cutting edge of design as well as mainstream ones with high volumes. For example, LED lighting solutions are very cost conscious as each chip is only around two to three cents. On the other hand, customers who work on consumer electronics such as digital TV or camera look for high performance and operate at an advanced technology node.
What are the innovations happening in the India centre?
We are a R&D intensive operation and file many patents as a byproduct of the work we do. We have had lots of success in various aspects, including place and route, verification, timing and power. Lately, there is more activity in design IPs, which is a new area of growth for us.
Globally, semi-conductor products such as desktop are on a wane and this traditional core electronic segment is seen as a sunset sector. Where do you see potential for Cadence?
The estimated growth for semi-conductor industry worldwide is 6-7 per cent - quite healthy, considering its size is $300 billion. We see a lot of potential with many new markets opening up. For example, medical devices, embedded systems, home automation system and Internet of things all offer many opportunities for innovation. What we also see is that while in the past product development was crowded in one process technology node, now products are developed for many different process nodes. For instance, when we moved from 65nm (nanometer), volumes in 45nm, 32nm and 28 nm also co-existed. The economics of process technology has evolved and the need to go to the next smaller size may not come up until there is a real need.
What do you foresee for the future of EDA companies in India – MNC and home-grown?
Companies such as Cadence that have been in India for a long time, have helped to create an eco-system of skilled people with EDA experience, where senior folks are able to branch out and start something. We see lots of opportunities for innovation in India, as unlike in the past where most start-ups were focused on service. We had Cosmic Circuits doing design IP and we foresee many new entrants. What you need is access to customers who are advanced users in case of EDA start-ups and also access to foundry in case of design IP start-ups. Fabs such as TSMCs, though they do not have a presence in the country, are willing to work closely with companies in India. VCs are also coming in to place the bets. So the future is bright.
What are your plans for India in the next few years?
The India operation is already close to 25 per cent of the global employees, so the growth we are looking to create is through business – by adding to the Cadence IP portfolio as well as expanding our market presence here. We will continue our focus on innovation. Headcount growth will be a by-product of our focused engagement in the India market.