For the first time, a microprocessor chip designed, owned, and marketed from India is set to be out in the open market and will soon power smart electronic devices. 

Incubated at IIT-Madras’ Pravartak Technologies Foundation, chip design start-up Mindgrove Technologies has received shipment of its first system-on-chip – Secure IOT – from Taiwan. It has also completed basic testing of the chip. A system-on-chip goes into the printed circuit board (PCB) and is like the brain of the device.

Target areas

Secure IOT is now being pitched to electronics manufacturers, ODMs (original design manufacturers who design for brands) and other mid-market customers in India and abroad. The RISC-V architecture-based chip claims to deliver high-performance clocked at 700 MHz. The start-up did not divulge the pricing details but said it is estimated to cost 30 per cent less than other chips in similar segment. 

“We received our initial samples of our chip and have started testing it on our ‘bring up’ board. The actual compute core and the basic systems of the chip now work,” Co-founder Sharan Jagathrakshakan told businessline. Bring-up is a process whereby an electronics system is tested and debugged to validate its readiness.

Once contracts are signed, clients will be able to use an Indian chip in their products instead of importing them from China or the Western world. The supply chain also gets simplified they align with an India partner. “Some of these players have huge volumes and deep experience in electronics manufacturing,” says Co-founder TR Shashwath.

While global giants such as Intel and Qualcomm, have R&D offices in India, home-grown companies in chip design are few, and not seen breakthroughs. They are often not able to match the prices of the Chinese chips and the R&D fire power of the Americans.

Deep embedded applications

Secure IOT is targeted at deep embedded applications. This includes smart variants of fans, speakers etc , wearables, and commercial use cases like smart city devices and access control systems. “Consumers seek high performance gadgets with connectivity and EMS companies too also looking to do their own designs,” Shashwath said

Despite the recent Taiwan earthquake and geopolitical constraints, Mindgrove team was pleasantly surprised to receive its first chip almost a year ahead of target. The duo credited the guidance from the IIT-M ecosystem and their focus on keeping the design simple. IIT-M director V Kamakoti, who was behind India’s first open-source microprocessor chip Shakti, is a mentor to Mindgrove’s founders.

Backed by VC firm Peak XV Partners among others, Mindgrove also has other products in the pipeline, and founders do note rule out a new funding round. “If we do succeed, I hope this inspires more people to get into deep tech product building,” says Jagathrakshakan.