EDA in India

It’s a simple enough question: Is there now, or will there be at some point going forward, an India-based EDA industry? The reason for asking the question seems obvious. The answer is not so obvious.


The Republic of India is the second-most populous nation and, per Wikipedia, the largest democracy on earth, with 1.1 billion people, 28 states, 7 territories, 22 official languages, and 1600 minor languages and dialects arrayed across 3.3 million square kilometers. Hindi and English are considered by many to be the “principal” languages in India; Hindi is spoken by over 200 million people, and English by over 400 million.

India is home to the second-fastest growing economy in the world (after China), and that circumstance is the sub-context of this article. Per The Economist (February 3, 2007), India’s economy expanded by 9.2% in 2006 and is on track to outpace that rate in 2007. Whether that growth rate is good or bad for the country, or the world, is yet to be determined, but the immediate impact is clear -- India is hot. Business opportunities are coming online in India at a far faster rate than most could have predicted even 5 years ago, and the semiconductor sector in India is part of that landscape.

Last month, the newly formed India Semiconductor Association hosted the ISA Vision Summit 2007 in Hyderabad. Reading from the briefing document associated with the event:

“The Indian semiconductor design industry, comprised of VLSI design, board design, and embedded software companies, has design companies across Bangalore, Delhi & Noida, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Goa. All of the global top-ten fabless design companies have India operations, and 19 of the top 25 semiconductor companies have a strong presence here.”

“The semiconductor design industry in India had [gross revenues] of US $3.2 billion in 2005, with an engineering workforce of around 75,000. It is estimated to reach US $43 billion by the year 2015 and [to] provide jobs to 780,000 professionals with a CAGR of around 30% for this period.”

“With its growing middle class population of nearly 400 million people, which will only increase over time, India’s electronic equipment consumption, which was estimated at around US $28.2 billion in 2005, is expected to reach US $363 billion by 2015 growing at a CAGR of nearly 30%. Indian electronics equipment domestic production was US $10.99 billion in 2005, and [is projected to hit] US $155 billion in 2015.”

If your eyes have not glazed over at these predicted red-hot rates of growth, you can see that India, both as design community and end-product market, is emerging as a force to be reckoned with. Hence the question: Will an India-based EDA industry emerge to meet the demands of India-based designers? Not “off-shore” R&D facilities for the currently established players in EDA, but new, locally-based EDA companies built on Indian venture capital expressly supplying the growing needs of the Indian design community.

EDA vendors constantly argue that they need to be “close to their customers.” If the design community in India is set to increase 10x over the next 10 years, will India become one of the global epicenters for emerging EDA companies at the same time?


Opinions vary

To answer these questions, I spoke by phone with five people involved in the EDA industry, and exchanged email with a sixth, all of whom have ties to India either by birth and education, or through business, or both:

Kamal Aggarwal, Vice President of Marketing & Strategy at SoftJin Technologies (Bangalore)
Pratap Reddy, Chairman & CEO at ArchPro Design Automation (San Jose)
Vic Kulkarni, President & CEO at Sequence Design (Santa Clara)
Rajeev Madhavan, Chairman & CEO at Magma Design Automation (San Jose);
Daya Nadamuni, Silicon Valley-based Market Analyst and weekly blogger for EETimes India
Raju Pudota, Managing Director for Denali Design Systems India (Bangalore).

I was surprised by the fairly consistent answers I received from the first five on the list, and the contrasting assertions put forth from the sixth. Five appear to say that something’s coming, but it’s not here yet. One appears to say that something’s already here. Perhaps only time will tell who’s right.

Kamal Aggarwal, SoftJin

There is a lot of tool development going on in India, but [it is] predominantly for U.S.-based EDA companies. Depending on the company, they may have 10-to-20 percent of their staff based in India working in tools development, and activities related to development. At the same time, there have been a few India-based startups. For instance, SoftJin started in 2001, and since that time we’ve also seen a couple of other startups in India.

Our take on EDA is slightly different from the predominant product model. We do customized EDA. We develop EDA tools for specific requirements of semiconductor companies [who] ask us to develop a tool not available on the market that they would like to have for in-house use. Primarily, we partner with either in-house CAD groups who’s mandate it is to develop the tools, or we work as tools developers for other EDA product companies who want to make use of our services or offerings.

There are always challenges for new players [trying] to make a dent in a mature market [like EDA], but we’ve been growing at a reasonably healthy clip. In 2004 we had 14 engineers, and [today] have about 100 engineers [providing] post-layout tools and tools targeted at programmable platforms.

Our marketing approach in other geographies is to work with customers in the U.S. and Japan -- a challenge when we are headquartered here in India. [However], having India as the place where we do tool development has not been an issue for our customers, apart from the business issues related to manpower or IP protection that any prospective customer has to deal with [working across] large geographies.

The EDA market in India is growing. It started from a small base, but is growing as semiconductor companies set up large facilities in India. We are not selling to semiconductor end users, but to tool developers, so to the extent that tool development has moved to India, for us the EDA market is right here in India and right now. Three or four years ago it would have been difficult to [support an India-based EDA industry] without a critical mass of designers to develop tools locally. Now we have local developers and are able to find local, experienced designers who we can test ideas on, which is very useful.

From the supply side, there is the dynamic today that a lot of EDA tool developers with long experience working in U.S.-based companies are looking to move back to India to be part of Indian companies. By offering a challenging opportunity, we are offering an invitation to come back to India where [the engineers] were born and brought up.

And experienced engineers are not just coming back in EDA, but in VLSI design as well, to work for Indian companies or in the Indian centers of foreign companies. For instance, Vinod Malhotra, our VP of Engineering, has long years of experience managing R&D post-layout tools. He recently came back to India [after working at Synopsys in the U.S.] and has joined SoftJin because he wanted to be part of an Indian EDA company generating new products.

It’s never an easy decision to make [this move]. Silicon Valley has a very unique blend of cultures and provides a huge opportunity for intellectual people to grow and work on challenging problems. The one thing we have seen, however, is that gradually the conditions are emerging in India where similar opportunities are arising here and giving an inducement to return.

[In addition], our universities are becoming increasingly sophisticated. In the past, a good proportion of our top students went abroad for higher studies or to work. That proportion is coming down as a lot of engineers here are looking to get absorbed into local companies.

Will there eventually be a complete semiconductor ecosystem in India? I believe we are gradually moving to a point where there is valuation in all points of the ecosystem -- tools development, usage, design, and manufacturing. India is becoming a growing market for semiconductor chips, so it’s natural that this could lead to an integrated India semiconductor ecosystem. That’s [certainly] the vision of the India Semiconductor Association -- to move towards a point where more and more of the parts cooperate with each other.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4  Next Page »

Review Article
  • India's Technical Education March 18, 2007
    Reviewed by 'P Choudhury'
    India losing tech edge and race
    Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
    Hindustan Times
    Far from having an endless supply of brilliant engineers, India is in great danger of losing the race for tech know-how to the United States and China, indicates a new report. Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University, the lead author of Seeing Through Preconceptions: A Deeper Look at China and India produced by the US National Academy of Sciences, warns: "China is going to eat India's lunch unless India invests in the long term."
    The report says India's much-maligned private colleges are the unsung heroes of the country's existing level of technical education, while its "public education system is mired in politics and inefficiency". It points out that India is also desperately short of PhD holders in engineering and technology.
    The report undermines the oft-repeated claim that the future of technology will shift towards Asia because India and China produce 12 times more engineers than the US. It also destroys a number of myths, including the notion that the US is short of good engineers.
    India's growth in engineering education, says the report, "has been largely bottom-up and market-driven." There are roughly three times more private engineering colleges than government colleges. While the former produces the numbers the new economy needs, their standards vary widely, according to Wadhwa.
    His study shows that China leads the US and India in producing post graduate and doctoral degree holders. It says the Indian Institutes of Technology produce too few graduates. All the IITs together awarded only 2,274 bachelor's degrees in 2002-03. The same is true about India's PhD holders in engineering and technology. China increased its PhD holders five-fold between 1994 and 2004 to almost 10,000. The US produced about 8000 in 2004. India produces less than 1000. The trend has been flat since 1995. "India is in particularly bad shape," says the report

      2 of 2 found this review helpful.
      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)

  • EDAWeekly Feedback March 15, 2007
    Reviewed by 'Vipin'
    This article is interesting to read as most of the Semiconductor industry talks in India have been around Design and Manufucturing; very little around EDA.
    1. EDA development in India: Yes, it is possible and it is happenning. I believe there is technical capability to develop new products. Some of the large players are already doing it.
    Hence, it is possible for an Indian EDA company to grow and develop EDA product in India. But they would need to have a big size of their marketing outside India as the state of the art user are NOT yet in India.
    2. Wafer Fabs: again a lot of hype going on but it will take 10-15 yrs to be able to do create the ecosystem to do state of the art. China, Malaysia and of course Taiwan, Singaproe are already there.
    So this is really going to be the opportunity cost and the benefits of being located in India istead of else where: in term of profits, in terms of understanding the market for delivering for the Indian market.
    Nevertheless, manufacturing is good for the economy as it allows a larger pool of employment with lesser qualitfication to earn more and Hence grow the economy.
    3. High tech manufacturing and ATPkg: these would be where the first phase of manufacturing will come from and would be more viable as it requries lesser investment, lesser stringent infrastructure and easier to find or trian resources from the exisiting pool.
    4. In any case: these are the years of OPPORTUNITY in INDIA for the ones who have the vision and the ability to sustain harship: in this century, the world will be supplied by China and India Or will be selling to China and India to make money out of their business.

      2 of 2 found this review helpful.
      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)

  • Nice numbers.. but tell me frankly March 14, 2007
    Reviewed by 'Hemanth'
    I have to agree somewhat that the projections made by the briefing document from ISA is inflated to bring in the 'feel good' feeling. I think the 75,000 engineers figure also mistakenly included the embedded engineers. Also the estimate of the Indian spending on electronics is bloated and half that figure might be a good guess too. And again this hype about the Indian middle class, no there simply arent 400 million as it says, it's amusing where they got that number from. From my reading, I glean its about 250 million and growing slowly, yes slowly. Now my views are so much in contradiction to the estimates is because I dont live in an ivory tower where I am fed some intelligent data, I am just an average indian working in chip design verification, walking the streets of Bangalore and aware of my sorroundings. I dont want to sound cynical but my hopes are tempered with reality- I think rajeev hit spot on with his assessment of the conditions here and pratap was correct in his evaluation for start-ups. As far as starting new business is concerned India dosent have any problem, infact there are more scrips opened and operated in Bombay Stock Exchange(our equivalent to NYSE) than in any other country. We are not new to business per se but EDA or for that matter even Software is a purely engineering endeavor and closely embraces technology. Technology as we know it is something foreign to us, pardon me, I am not naive but this is the truth. Technology has always been driven from the west and we had a lot of catching up to do in manufacturing before we could stand our ground in the world. This is because technology is basically nurtured and cultivated at the grass roots level by the universities and this symbiotic relationship between universities and industry is a determinant of the strength of technical competence. This is one area where India is thoroughly lacking. I dont know why when anyone talks of Indian education they immediately picturize the IITs. Yes IITs are excellent but do you know the percentage of indian engineers who come from IITs, it's << 1%. With some exceptions the rest of the institutions are mediocre or average at best. They are more like extended high schools in disguise. Poor Vic I wonder where he got his idea of a revolution in indian education from. Yes things are changing but slowly yes I repeat slowly. Things do happen in India but they happen slowly and this propensity for slowlness cant be changed.
    So coming back to EDA since this and software is purely an technical undertaking it faces enormous challenges in India and frankly speaking availiability of skilled manpower in these areas is felt. No doubt EDA veterans comming from abroad and settling here would intitiate the surge of startups but ability to sustain and grow is only dependent on the fundamental needs to be addressed in education and business mindset. No wonder we have billion dollar software companies but they dont do any cutting edge applications, they are mainly into servicing because those are the risk free cash cows at present. To be innovative in business requires some daring and risk taking which are conspicuous by their absence in indian technology industry but again we are learning from others and things are changing but slowly mind you.
    Hmm so Vic you thought that our politicians were tech savvy no doubt. There are competent beauracrats here but our politicians are a diffrent brand, you should listen to what they dont say and I hate to say this but beware most of them dont know what they are talking about.
    Overall I am optimistic about EDA in india not because of all those statistics but because the ingredients are there and I know we are learning and growing and thats a recipe for change for the better. Not that we have to but I dont think we will ever be the silicon valley becasue we are oh.. so different.

      3 of 3 found this review helpful.
      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)

  • Problems of Rapid Growth March 13, 2007
    Reviewed by 'Vishwanathan'
    One of the problems the Indian Chip Design Industry is facing is past legacy.
    The Industry grew very fast in the late 90's with a surge in demand of staff. With no history available a lot of inappropriate staff were selected, which no doubt served the purpose at that time. Ten years later the same people have reached the critical middle management level, where on the one hand they are micomanaging downstream project implementation and on the other hand trying to raise the work being done up the value chain.
    Since not all selections in the late 90s surge were appropriate, the industry is saddled with not the best staff for the job but with many upcoming, able and challenging juniors. Those companies who have been able to recognise this problem and taken corrective measures have done well, while some who have not are getting saddled with an inefficient middle management.
    An interesting challenge for the maturing design industry in India

      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)

  • Number of people March 12, 2007
    Reviewed by 'C V Srinivasan'
    Wonder where the figure of 75,000 VLSI engineers came from ?
    Excluding embedded and software engineers the rough estimates are, for front end and backend included and only, (apologies if any one is grossly wrong) :
    AMD 250
    Conexant 300
    Intel 1,000
    ST 800
    TI 1500
    Freescale 600
    Philips 200
    Marvell 100
    National 200
    nVidia 150
    Samsung 100
    Toshiba 50
    ARM 150
    Service Cos (HCL, Wipro, TCS, TElx, Mindtree, KPIT) 3000
    Sasken 200
    Xilinx 150
    (Add similar numbers for another 25 companies)
    and check your primary school maths adding capability

      9 of 14 found this review helpful.
      Was this review helpful to you?   (Report this review as inappropriate)

For more discussions, follow this link …
CST Webinar Series


Featured Video
Peggy AycinenaWhat Would Joe Do?
by Peggy Aycinena
Acquiring Mentor: Four Good Ideas, One Great
More Editorial  
Manager, Field Applications Engineering for Real Intent at Sunnyvale, CA
Upcoming Events
SEMICON Europe at Grenoble France - Oct 25 - 27, 2016
ARM TechCon 2016 at Santa Clara Convention Center Santa Clara CA - Oct 25 - 27, 2016
Call For Proposals Now Open! at Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA California CA - Oct 25 - 27, 2016
DeviceWerx - 2016 at Green Valley Ranch Casino & Resort Las Vegas NV - Nov 3 - 4, 2016
S2C: FPGA Base prototyping- Download white paper

Internet Business Systems © 2016 Internet Business Systems, Inc.
595 Millich Dr., Suite 216, Campbell, CA 95008
+1 (408)-337-6870 — Contact Us, or visit our other sites:
AECCafe - Architectural Design and Engineering TechJobsCafe - Technical Jobs and Resumes GISCafe - Geographical Information Services  MCADCafe - Mechanical Design and Engineering ShareCG - Share Computer Graphic (CG) Animation, 3D Art and 3D Models
  Privacy Policy