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|March 31, 1998||
Texas is in South India
Ankoor, the latest 'digital signal processor' chip from Texas Instruments was designed entirely in India!
A new chip, a digital signal processor, code-named Ankoor, and, officially, TMS320C27x, has been developed at the TI DSP Product Development Centre, Bangalore.
Ankoor is a result of the demand for small and fast converters from analog signals ,or waves, to digital, or binary, and back with some processing in between. So it is found in hard disk drives, digital cameras, digital video displays, cell phones, scanners, printer, automobile electronics, and robotics.
"It combines the function of a DSP and a microcontroller unit and it frees up the real estate," a company spokesperson told Rediff On The NeT. Besides, Ankoor, developed by a team led by Sham Banerji, clips along at a healthy 100 million instructions a second. It was developed in 100 weeks, according to company sources.
Ankoor, says the TIIL spokesperson, "is not a 'Bandaid' solution, attempting to bolt on a multiplier to a MCU chip or put a DSP and MCU side by side," putting together two development systems, resulting in twice the work at twice the cost. The architecture, he said, provide the speeds of the DSP with the flexibility and math-intensive abilities of a MCU, replacing two processors with one, thus reducing total system cost by roughly half.
TI, which holds about 45 per cent of the DSP market, called the shots, with the architecture definition team consisting of US, Indian and Australian members and led by Australian Alex Tessorolo. But the entire design was done in India, by Indian engineers. TI has been designing ICs in India for over ten years. However this is the first time that a new, complex DSP architecture has been totally designed in India, the company spokesperson said.
Cheaper manpower was not the primary factor for the work being done in India; it was the availability of high quality engineering staff. But it was more "cost-competitive than getting it done in Silicon Valley," the spokesperson admitted.
Texas Instruments has shifted focus at the corporate level to focus on DSP solutions. And TIIL, which started off with the development and support of TI's proprietary CAD softwar and IC design, has also changed direction. The Bangalore site now has the infrastructure involved in CPU core development, mixed signal design, software development and application specific integrated circuits to support TI's DSP solutions thrust.
There was some trouble initially putting together the right team for the job: experts in logic design, electrical design, architecture design had to be hired and, sometimes, trained extensively. Indians abroad involved in special skill areas like IC product engineering and who wished to return were also recruited through the Net. TI sent in inputs from potential customers and its own suggestions. And interactivity was assured through the use of video conferencing and net meeting tools.
The design, the spokesperson said, was done using a top-down methodolgy using C and VHSIC Hardware Description Language (VHSIC stands for Very High Speed Integrated Circuits), along with formal verification and Automatic Test Pattern Generation tools.
While TIIL had to make do with software simulators, hardware accelerator emulators and models, a working prototype has been designed at TI's wafer fabrication plant in Dallas and has been around since the last quarter of 1997. A configurable DSP for key customer-specific applications are also available now.
The chip is expected to be available off the shelf around the first quarter of next year and the price, depending on the complexity of the chip would range between $ 10 and $ 20.
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