Bangalore: TCS, the country’s largest software exporter, is entering the chip design business. A very large scale integration (VLSI) design team is being put in place to offer chip design service, Sunil D Sherlekar, principal consultant, embedded systems said. Sherlekar was till recently chief technology officer at the Bangalore-based Sasken. Known more as a software services provider, TCS’s foray into hardware design activity is relatively new. The company, however, has advanced offerings in the embedded systems area and has carried out software audits for safety-critical systems using real-time embedded technologies. Chip design is a complex activity carried out using expensive electronic design automation tools on servers to convert a piece of silicon into an intelligent device with optimum power consumption and dye size. Barring a few big names like Wipro, not many Indian exporters are into chip design. Infosys, for instance, does not offer chip design services. The global market for chip design is said to be $20-$30bn. TCS, which presently develops technologies for telecom, multi-media and process control, will now offer VLSI design for these segments. As two other Tata Group companies, CMC and Tata Elxsi, have the required expertise in digital design, TCS is building a team for analog and mixed signal design. This will help in offering end-to-end product design services. Getting customers for the chip design service is not a problem for the company as it can leverage on its large customer base. It also has a ready made army of software designers, who can be trained into hardware design and due to its size is in a better position to invest in developing specific domain expertise, said Sherlekar. TCS also plans to develop and license some proprietary IC designs and develop IP for the telecommunications, multimedia, process control, and automotive sectors. TCS has relationships with academic institutions like IIT Mumbai for microelectronics, and also participates in research and development activities in universities abroad.


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