RISC-V is being adopted around the world as the silicon industry looks to the open RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) to offer a new level of design freedom. In this blog post, we wanted to shine a light on some of the RISC-V activities in India, where there is a ton of innovation happening.
In 2022, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) launched the Digital India RISC-V (DIR-V) Program to develop local microprocessors as part of the country’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, or self-reliant India, campaign. Two key projects that are part of the ambitious DIR-V program include the SHAKTI processors developed by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras and the VEGA processors from the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
The SHAKTI program offers open source processors, system-on-chips (SoCs), development boards, and software development kits based on the RISC-V ISA. SHAKTI’s efforts are making it more accessible for developers to design a range of devices from IoT products to robotic platforms to mobile applications and beyond. Kamakoti Veezhinathan of IIT Madras published a great overview of the SHAKTI project at Communications of the ACM.
C-DAC plans to use its RISC-V based VEGA processors in mass market products, including affordable hearing aids. The flexibility of RISC-V allowed C-DAC to design VEGA with very low-power consumption that helps significantly extend battery life in connected devices for a better user experience. C-DAC also offers several different VEGA development boards. Check out C-DAC’s video showing off hearing aids and a smart cane that use VEGA processors. Additionally, you can read about the recent VEGATHON hackathon where participants used VEGA’s ARIES development board to create products for public health, agriculture, and the environment.
There is also a lot of commercial and investment interest in RISC-V in India. Sequoia India recently led a $3 million seed round for InCore Semiconductors, which develops RISC-V processor IP. InCore offers processors for high-performance applications, along with power and area optimized embedded processors. The venture capital firm also led a $2.2 million seed round for Mindgrove Technologies, which designs RISC-V SoCs. Mindgrove is using the RISC-V SHAKTI cores in its SoCs designed for secure IoT applications, vision applications, and edge compute. Check out this blog post from Sequoia India about the huge opportunity for RISC-V in India.
Additionally, RISC-V members from India are very involved in advancing RISC-V initiatives. Sunita Verma of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) is on the RISC-V Board of Directors. Lavanya Jagadeeswaran, CEO and Founder of Vyoma Systems which is based in Chennai, India, is one of our RISC-V Ambassadors. She incubated Vyoma, which offers advanced RISC-V processor verification, through the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) Pravartak Technologies Foundation.
RISC-V Ambassador Lavanya Jagadeeswarana explained: “RISC-V has been a game changer in the Indian context of increased collaboration between industry, academia and government agencies with the growing number of RISC-V startups. As a RISC-V Ambassador, I am excited to enhance engagements with the Indian engineering talent as well as to promote the adoption of our innovations at the global level.”