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NeST begins work on VLSI design centre in Kerala

Posted: 05 Apr 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Network Systems and Technologies Group  VLSI design centre  NeST foundry 

Network Systems and Technologies Group (NeST), an R&D and EMS-oriented group based in Kerala, has launched work on a VLSI design centre in association with an undisclosed Japanese chipmaker, as part of its plan to set up a manufacturing foundry for memory chips.

The design centre being established at its software centre in Kochi will become operational in July this year with about 100 employees, according to S. Sasikumar, president of NeST. Presently, 50 engineers are undergoing training in Japan.

Sasikumar shared the centre would provide design for all types of chips and would address all aspects of analogue and digital communication. The work on the foundry, estimated to cost Rs.4,464 crore ($1 billion), would start after opening a test facility by the end of 2007, according to Suresh Nair, director R&D at NeST.

The foundry is expected to be ready by the end of 2008. This is the third foundry proposed to come up in the country in the coming two to three years. The other two are planned in Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh by SemIndia Inc. and Korean company, Intellect.

Nair said the proposed fab plants would not affect the prospects of the NeST foundry since it has already tied up its customers. He believes there is space for more units since India's semiconductor industry is witnessing rapid growth.

The semiconductor and embedded design industry in the country is estimated to grow at 30 per cent annually to generate revenue worth Rs.1,91,952 crore ($43 billion) by 2015, according to two research reports released by the Indian Semiconductor Association and Frost & Sullivan.

The total consumption of electronic equipment would rise from the present Rs.1,25,884.80 crore ($28.2 billion) to Rs.16,20,432 crore ($363 billion) by 2015, pushing up the market for semiconductors. The two reports have predicted a growth rate of 29.8 per cent in the electronics equipment consumption during this period.

The NeST foundry will manufacture memory chips for mobile handsets and consumer electronics products in the domestic and foreign markets. NeST expects a huge growth in demand for memory chips in the country's consumer electronics sector. The company's assessment is that India would be one of the biggest consumer markets for memory chips in the near future.

NeST Group Managing Director N. Jehangir said they were encouraged to foray into the semiconductor industry due to the enormous talent pool available in the country. The company is already involved in component manufacturing. It contract-manufactured ultra-thin Lithium batteries for smart cards for NTK Powerdex of the United States. The company is now planning to manufacture other components such as rechargeable batteries and planar light wave circuits used in broadband applications.

In addition, NeST is the first local company to have collaborated with the Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute of India to develop a competitive erbium-doped fibre amplifier for optical communications. It has recently developed a FiberSentinel System based on WaveSense intrusion prevention technology, which employs artificial intelligence and optical signature recognition analysis techniques to detect intrusions into optical/DWDM networks. The company also plans to make optical chips for broadband communications for the fibre-to-the-home market.

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