‘Shakti’ is India’s first indigenous microprocessor
Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) have designed India’s first Microprocessor that will help reduce the country’s dependence on imported systems in communications and defense sectors.
The processor, called Shakti, has been developed at an outlay of about Rs 11 crore and is said to be on par with its international counterparts. It can be used in various consumer electronic devices, mobile computing devices, low-power wireless systems, and networking systems.
“The microprocessor can be used by others as it is on par with International Standards”, a statement from IIT-M said. “The microprocessor will not get outdated as it is one of the few ‘RISC V Microprocessors’ in the world now.”
The ‘SHAKTI’ family of microprocessors was fabricated at Semi-Conductor Laboratory of Indian Space Research Organizations (ISRO) in Chandigarh, making it the first ‘RISC V Microprocessor’ to designed and completely made in India, IIT-M said.
The microprocessor’s design is based on an open Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) named RISC-V, noted Professor Kamakoti Veezhinathan, Lead Researcher, Reconfigurable Intelligent Systems Engineering (RISE) Laboratory, Department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT-M. This means anyone can design, manufacture, and sell chips based on this architecture.
The most critical aspect of such an indigenous design, development and fabricating approach is reducing the risk of deploying systems which may be affected by the back-doors and hardware Trojans.
This achievement will get huge implication when systems based on Shakti processors are accepted by strategic sectors such as defense, nuclear power installations, government agencies, and departments.
“With the advent of Digital India, there are several applications that require customizable processor cores. The 180nm fabrication facility at SCL Chandigarh is crucial in getting these cores manufacturers within our Country,” Veezhinathan said.
The project originally began in 2011 and was afterward granted a funding of Rs.11 crore ($1.5 million) from the Government of India in 2017.
“We have proved that a microprocessor can be designed, developed and fabricated in India. This is important for the country. All the countries would like to own the design part. Even from the security point of view, indigenous design gains importance,” noted Veezhinathan.
“The impact of this completely indigenous fabrication is that India has now attained independence in designing, developing and fabricating end-to-end systems within the country, leading to self-sufficiency.
Veezhinathan and his team are also working on a microprocessor for supercomputers, named ‘Parashakti,’ which is likely to be released by the end of the year.