Anand Parthasarathy

Bangalore, Aug 3The 130-odd members of the Indian Semiconductor Association (ISA) between them provide an accurate snapshot the country's silicon edge: representing various niches of the semiconductor business: desi development centres of the global chip `biggies'; Indian developers who thrive along the `fabless' road; a plethora of electronic design and development hardware and software providers. Last week's technology show organised here by ISA was called EXCITE -- Exhibition of a Complete Integrated Technology Ecosystem -- and it was arguably the biggest, most wide ranging showcase of Indian intellectual property ( IP) fuelling the global hunger for `connected' consumer and corporate solutions.Over 40 of the best and brightest among the India-based semiconductor players participated in the exhibition which served as a useful demonstration of the subsurface `give-and-take' that exits in an industry that has realised that coopetition -- compete, while cooperating -- is the only way to `increase and multiply'.New solutionsIttiam Systems, Indian creator of IP in the area of digital signal processing, showcased two upcoming solutions based on the recent DaVinci -HD chip release from Texas Instruments (TI). It innovatively harnessed the increased bandwidth ( for high definition applications) enabled by the chip to multiplex four video streams into one -- and create a 4-channel video conferencing tool as well as a 4-channel video surveillance system riding on the Internet.Freescale Semiconductor's design suggestions fuelled by its own chips, for an Internet Protocol (IP) -based video camera have been cannily re-worked by the Gurgaon-based e-Con Infotech, to create a very handy 1-channel video camera solution: All the electronics to control its many operations have been squeezed into the camera housing, which will appeal to small businesses as well as home owners looking for a surveillance solution.Wireless modemThe Universal Serial Bus or USB port is fast emerging as the preferred form of connection from a PC or laptop ... to virtually any device. The Bangalore end of the Hyderabad -based SemIndia has extended its range of high-speed modems by squeezing an Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line or ADSL wireless modem into the form factor of a USB `dongle' or pen-drive-like device. ADSL is the next iteration of wireless connectivity for phones beyond today's GPRS (General Packet Radio Service).The Philips-founded NXP Semiconductors, had another USB-based wireless device, an EDGE modem which will provide laptops and desktop PCs with Internet at speeds in excess of 426 kilo bits a second (compare this with today's wireless data cards that typically connect at 256 KBPS or less.)All these products were in the pipeline, which is why most of the units on show were `reference designs' -- that is, on see-all boards that were much larger than what an end-manufacturer would realise. But for professional visitors, it was nevertheless an exciting demonstration of the technology directions that the India based industry was taking.Also on hand were players Broadcom, ARM, Analog Devices, AMD, TI, STM that supply the bulk of the processors to be found under the hood of mobile phones, cameras, video players, you name it. ARM which towers over the mobile phone market with its processor cores, showed its efforts to reduce the power demand to a fraction of what was possible even a year ago; Broadcom's Hyderabad design house has been behind many of the company's compelling designs networking software platforms.And design houses such as Wipro and HCL; Mindtree and iWave were there holding aloft the flag for Indian ingenuity in circuit and device design. The message seemed to be: We can make IT happen for you in today's connected world.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 4, 2008)
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