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Betting high on embedded software

he future world will be driven by three key technologies: mobile communications, broadband, and 'always-on' appliances. This, in turn, would fuel the growth of embedded systems a combination of computer hardware and software, either fixed in capability or programmable, that is specifically designed for a particular kind of application device. According to a report in The Economic Times, "The global embedded and telecom market is worth one trillion dollars and will continue to grow at an exponential pace. Industry analysts estimate that over 54 per cent of future software development will be in the embedded technology space. Nasscom states that the worldwide market for embedded software is pegged at US $21 billion (2001) and is expected to grow at a healthy 16 per cent CAGR in the next three years with software becoming an important source of functionality enhancement and differentiation in many traditionally non-computing devices such as PDAs, cell phones and consumer electronics.

Datacom 34%
Consumer Electronics 20%
Industrial Automation 19%
Automotives 10%
Office Automation 8%
* Percentage share of various verticals in Embedded Software market

The key sectors that are driving the growth of the overall embedded space (both software development and hardware design) are automotive and industrial electronics, digital consumer electronics, enterprise and carrier class communications, wireless, broadband, aerospace and even defence. Of these application sectors, telecom at 34 per cent enjoys the largest chunk of market share, followed by consumer electronics at 20 per cent and automation and instrumentation at 19 per cent. Automotive electronics and telematics are the hottest areas in the embedded space. In the automotive sector, for example, major new product advances such as Automatic Braking Systems, Telematics, Engine control are all powered by embedded software systems The amount of electronics deployed in a car has risen steadily over the years. Now, about 15 per cent of a car's value lies in the electronics, and this figure is expected to grow up to 20 per cent soon. The offerings include complete design and development services from concept to product design through development, and testing on a wide variety of processors encompassing all the major architectures, ranging from 4-bit micro-controllers to 64-bit microprocessors, as well as many popular Dips.

Rapidly evolving hardware is also fuelling the need for embedded devices. Every time a manufacturer chooses to upgrade to a more superior/newer hardware, all applications and tools need to be ported onto the new hardware. This calls for significant software input. In addition, as hardware becomes more powerful and inexpensive, with 64 bit processing power available now at US$120 - 200, the development as well as value needs of the future will lie in the software.

India is set to capture a significant pie of this emerging opportunity. MNC majors such as Texas Instruments, ST Microelectronics, Motorola, Intel, and Cadence are aggressively expanding operations in India. Honeywell Industrial Controls has a 400-person captive ODC in India, focusing on avionics and industrial controls. Delphi, the leading global automotive supplier develops embedded software for automotive controllers in India. It plans to invest $35 million in India over 3 years. Samsung has set up a development centre in India with 200 engineers to work on software applications around network management, computer telephony and network printing solutions.

Leading Indian IT companies such as TCS, Wipro and HCL Technologies are also focusing on this sector. Many OEMs in industries such as automotive face a huge challenge in attracting and retaining high quality software talent. This, coupled with the increasing need for services in this market is likely to result in a large number of OEMs and suppliers looking for third party service providers or talent hubs to augment their software development capabilities, according to Nasscom. Says Kiran Karnik, President, Nasscom, "Over 60 per cent of the top global Independent Software Vendors are already leveraging India for maintenance services and new product development. Many companies have already started providing complete solutions in this area by leveraging the existing design and programming capabilities within the industry while outsourcing the actual development of chips to external silicon wafer manufacturers. A testament to this fact is that of the total revenue contribution of US $1.2 billion in 2001 - 02, from the R&D and technology sector, embedded software development constituted a significant percentage."

Nasscom has identified four primary markets that can be carried out by third party providers or offshore hubs in India. These include:

  • Product development partnerships: Companies can work with customer's in-house team to share product development workload, reducing costs and time-to-market
  • Validation Services: Companies can use extensive tools to objectively validate code written by in-house engineers or other vendors
  • Maintenance Services: Companies could maintain customer code, making and documenting any changes required during the life cycle
  • Professional services: Companies could help their customer's customers (i.e., end users) modify and use their products

Expansion plans of various MNCs and recent efforts by Nasscom to play up India's product development skills point to the fact embedded software would be India's next sunrise sector. Companies are frantically looking for professionals with a good knowledge of the industry domain and product roadmap, along with knowledge of technologies.


List of Indian Companies in Embedded Software and Technology Services
Company Name Offerings
Arasan Chip Systems Provider of reusable,silicon proven,parameterised,RMM complaint IP cores that are technology, foundry and EDA tool independent. It provides IP customisation and integration services to its IP clients
Atrenta Atrenta's flagship product - SpyGlass provides the infrastructure to bring the requirements and constraints of all the participants in the value chain (designers,testers,foundaries etc.) right up front
Bluefont Technologies Focuses on products & platforms used in the distribution and management of rich media content,using emerging wireless and wired technologies.
CG-CoreEL Offers the full spectrum of design services on FPGA and ASIC platforms. Developed expertise in telecommunications (GSM,GPRS),networking (SDH/SONET,ATM,Fibre channel,Ethernet) & DSP. Company has recently launched a VLSI design course for individuals.
ControlNet India Provides turnkey ASIC design services. Software development for Application programming in the area of networking,Device drivers for windows based operations,Embedded systems,system validation & Internet applications
CoVisible Solutions Offers collaborative platform for accelerating the product adoption process for multi-million fate IC design and EDA tool development markets.
Cradle Technologies Offers UMS (Universal Micro Systems) family of SoC platforms. UMS platform is suitable for a variety of applications that involve stream processing e.g. networking,communication,multimedia etc.
DCM Technologies Provides IP & design services to the companies in the areas of ASIC/PLD design,embedded software and communications software.
Delsoft Provides services and expertise in conceiving,developing and delivering core technologies in EDA, Digital Video Technology (DVT) and VLSI design
Dexcel Electronic Designs Provides design & development services in communications,multimedia (Voice,video,image & data) and digital signal processing areas. Provides front-end design services for ICs needed for customer applications. Also verifies the IC design by implementing it on FPGs
D'gipro Systems Provides products & services in the areas of ASIC/PLD design,system level design and embedded software. Large portfolio of 45 IP blocks in areas like : DSP,Controllers,Peripherals,Interfaces, Encoders-decoders,ATM/Networking,Bluetooth,Computational modules
Future Techno Designs FTD specialise in analog/mixed signal IP cores like ADC,DAC,PLL for low voltage,high speed application. Offers services like ASIC design,analog process qualification and consultancy on Electrostatic discharge (ESD)
Future Software Ltd Range of protocol stacks in the areas of LAN,WAN,ATM,IP,Internetworking,Network management,telecom and signalling Product realisation services,extended lifecycle services,verification and validation services. Mindteck semiconductor industry software,telecom protocol stacks (802.11,bluetooth,GPRS) and other embedded systems software
GDA Technologies GDA Technologies helps OEMs in the networking,embedded and consumer electronics in product design and development by providing system & IC designs and development by providing system & IC design services & SIP
HCL Technologies Strategic R&D outsouring partner to semiconductor equipment vendors. Strong relationship with leaders in semiconductor equipment manufacturing industry in the areas of Wafer processing & inspection, Metrology,Yield Management,Deposition,Ion Implementation,ATE,packaging & assmbly
Hughes Software Voice over Packet protocol stacks and frameworks (softswitch,SIP server,Gatekeeper),Protocol stacks for GPRS and UMTS,product design and engineering services.
Impulsesoft Offers several reference designs for Bluetooth & 802.11b based products. These includes : BTHub,ISDNTA, MacBeth,Cyrano,WANDA,iBTstack,BluePC,FiSH etc. Offers support services for customising and porting its components and reference designs (to different platforms)
Indra Networks Products offered : Web accelerator,which uses novel techniques to significantly speed up responses at busy websites and reduce webserver costs
Inspiration Technologies Provider of Design services and products to clients in the networking domain. Focus on verification part of the IC design cycle. Also provides software design services for model development,embedded systems development,network protocol implementation and device driver development.
Ishna Tek Systems & Services Provider of ASIC design services and IP cores. It not only provides specific design services like RTL development but also undertakes complete ASIC design projects
Ittiam Developing DSP based products in the areas of wireless,wirelines,speech and audio,image and video.These systems are implemented as floating or fixed point C language models,optimized assembly on multiple DSP platforms,synthesizable HDL,or as reference boards.
Mindtree Consulting Offers product realisation services to Internet infrastructure and Internet appliance vendors through networking technology expertise and re-usable components.
MosChip MosChip is a fabless semiconductor player developing ASICs for computer peripherals,data communications and consumer electronics. Offers a range of ICs for I/O applications.
NiTAl Provides IC front-end design services and has considerable expertise in developing behavioural and structural models in HDLs like Verilog & VHDL. Has design expertise in broad range of areas - buses,memory,FIFO,I/O, Processors etc. Also offers FPGA,custom ASIC and board design services
Pace Soft Silicon Offers SSIPs on DSP,ARM,Parthus and Cradle UMS platforms in the following areas : Video,Crypto,Speech/Audio,Bluetooth,Systems
Paxonet Communications Provider of semiconductor subsystem solutions for the emerging metro optical network marketplace. Also offers about 40 different IP blocks for telecommunication transmission including SONET/SDH,ATM,Packet over SONET (POS) and Ethernet
Portal Player It's a powerful,base level platform for next generation MP3-type player/ recorder systems,including hybrid systems combining CD and digital audio player/recorders,and hard drive equipped digital audio jukeboxes
Poseidon Technologies Provider of solutions for architectural exploration of applications specific embedded processors,based on App2Chi framework (Application to Chip)
Purple Vision Technologies Offers the following set of services : DFT services,system programming services and system design testability. Provides onsite as well as offshore services
Sasken Communication Technologies Provider of telecommunications software services and solutions to network equipment manufacturers,mobile terminal vendors and semiconductor companies.
Semiconductor Complex Limited (SCL) Offers VLSI design education & training (VEDANT) course in an effort to contribute effectively to the manpower development in the vital area of microelectronics in the country. Offers IC design,wafer fabrication,packaging & testing services with expertise in analog and Mixed signal design
SoftJin Infotech Offers tool development and maintenance. Expertise in developing tools for all phase of chip design - from system design to physical design
SPEL Semiconductor Offers a range of packaging (PDIP,SOIP,QSOP,QTSOP,QVSOP,MILLIPAQ,SSOP, TSSOP and SIP) It not only provides test engineering and test development services to its customers.
Spike Technologies Offers a comprehensive range of IC design. Other services offered are tool development and maintenance,tool support,Graphical User Interface design, porting & verification
Tata Consultancy Services Design & develop high-speed,high performance analog,RF,DSP and mixed signal integrated circuits for : High-speed networking,Wired & wireless communications,Multimedia & consumer,High-speed computing,Automotive, Industrial,Data processing and other related services
Tata Elxsi Offers product design services using ASIC/Silicon,Board/System Firmware, Device Drivers,Operating System Protocols,Embedded Software,Host based Application Software
Teamasia Lakhi Semiconductor Supplier of dicrete semiconductors specialising in the power management segment.
U&I Scotty Computers Primary focus is turnkey IC design services. Expertise in mixed signal design & focuses on the telecom segment. Also provides software services in the areas of telecom software & embedded systems
V3Logic Provider of VLSI design and training services. Helps its clients in the areas of system design,prototyping (on PLD platform),testing and verification and IP core development
VinChip Systems Provides IP Customisation and integration services to its IP clients. Also provides third party IP verififaction services. Undertakes IP development based on customer specfication,offers stand alone design services for tunkey design,FPGA based prototype development and system development (board design,embedded software development)
Virtual IP Group Provides intellectual property (IP) development,licensing & integration services as well as frontend and backend design services including firmware development for embedded system solution
Wipro Technologies Offers services like : system-on-chip & IC design,Architecture design, development,tape out and validation,Gate array/cell and embedded array implementation,FPGA and board designs,Demo/development and evaluation platforms,assembly level optimization,bench marking micro controllers, Associated specialized tools and debugging utilities,Design & development of DSP libraries,Debugging utilities and micro controller strater kits
Courtesy: Nasscom

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