Transforming India's semiconductor industry: insights from L&T Tech Services CEO

Prasanth Aby Thomas, DIGITIMES, Bangalore 0

Amit Chadha, CEO and MD, L&T Technology Services. Credit: L&T

Although India's semiconductor manufacturing plans are relatively new, the country has been a strong player in the chip design engineering services sector. One of the key Indian companies active in this field is L&T Technology Services (LTTS). Recently, DIGITIMES Asia had an exclusive conversation with the company's CEO and MD, Amit Chadha, to gather insights into their plans and market outlook.

"While LTTS doesn't have much exposure to semiconductor manufacturing, we are one of the leading companies engaged in semiconductor design and post-silicon validation, system validation, and manufacturing test support for the industry 4.0 segment," Chadha said. "Our expertise includes cutting-edge work done across fabrication design to wafer creation spanning the entire product life cycle."

"Based on market perceptions and conversations with our global tech customers, we are witnessing an upward demand for semiconductor design services. This demand is not only from traditional semiconductor manufacturers but also from technology giants who are fast entering the chip design space."

Opportunities in an increasingly competitive market

Industries such as medicine, transportation, defense, energy, and finance heavily rely on the semiconductor industry. The surge in demand for IoT-based applications in power management and telecommunications owes its success to the semiconductor industry. However, the ever-increasing demand has disrupted the global supply chain.

The Indian government has introduced several incentives for fabrication, display labs, semiconductor packaging, and design, resulting in an optimistic outlook for the R&D market in the country. LTTS has dedicated teams of thousands of engineers spread across offshore delivery centers in India catering to the semiconductor vertical.

"As a leading Engineering and R&D services player, LTTS is well poised to capitalize on such positive trends," Chadha said. "Our lab-as-a-service model supports chipmakers in their product design and acceleration journey while our expertise in software, hardware, and mechanical systems ensures that we effectively meet the demands and expectations of our global clientele. Our IC designs span applications such as 3D cameras, speech recognition, and smart glasses."

Innovations helping to stay ahead of the curve

LTTS has been at the forefront of several innovations in this sphere, enabling business transformation across the industry 4.0 segment for semiconductor manufacturers. With over 25 successful ASIC and FPGA products and a portfolio of over 80 patents, the company has established itself as a key player.

It has a global engineering base of over 2,000 experts developing cutting-edge technologies with diverse applications, such as VR headsets, speech recognition, 3D image recognition, and solar-powered drones.

"We are engineering products that range from applications in medical and automotive to telecom and consumer electronics," Chadha said. "Our turnkey projects include home automation where we have empowered chips with 3D imaging capability, while our ingenious mesh network is capitalizing on smart city infrastructure. We deliver cost-effective internet access to the masses."

Other innovations from LTTS include using miniature radar to detect touchless gesture interactions and ruggedized system basis chips that provide industrial-grade flexibility. The company also developed connectivity programs involving electronic integrated circuit design, wireless mesh networks, and connected drones, fueling the semiconductor industry.

Working with India's renewed semiconductor interests

Although India is currently one of the top global chip designers, it relies entirely on imported semiconductor hardware. The government is now making efforts to establish a self-sufficient chip ecosystem within the country. This involves a focus on domestic manufacturing and development. The government has also shown a keen interest in boosting research and design capabilities in the semiconductor segment.

"In a digital-first world, we remain committed to strengthening the R&D backbone of our country by nurturing the available talent," Chadha said. "LTTS has been playing a critical role in strengthening the industry-academia ecosystem, having partnered with leading universities and technical colleges for cutting-edge R&D and technology programs."

LTTS' flagship open-innovation program to promote nationwide engineering talent and knowledge received record participation from over 30,000 students across 444 premier institutes last year. The company hired many of these students across hi-tech and VLSI domains.

Major partnerships boosting the outlook

Forging strategic partnerships is a crucial step toward growth in a highly competitive market. LTTS understands this well and has made impressive strides in this regard.

In 2022, the company was selected as an engineering partner by Mavenir and NVIDIA to accelerate the adoption of the industry's first converged AI-on-5G. LTTS is providing Mavenir with customized solutions, integration support, and deployment services for AI applications that will be deployed on NVIDIA's AI-on-5G Platform. This partnership will enable LTTS to expand its AI and 5G footprint and leverage its expertise to drive innovation.

"LTTS' industry-leading semicon offerings follow a "spec to system" model," Chadha said. "It starts with the overall 5G system specifications to define server stacks all the way to map an organization's overall architecture to the business infrastructure. With protracted developmental efforts into both the device and large-scale infrastructural implementation, we leverage our partnerships with major players in the 5G industry to ensure that businesses have 360-degree access to the expertise, resources, and support required to facilitate a seamless 5G transition."

LTTS' portfolio includes 500+ embedded designs across multiple domains with partnerships and alliances such as LoRa, Samsung Artik, Xilinx, Qualcomm, NXP, Intel IoT, and Sierra Wireless. The company also has custom-built specific IP cores in security, communication, and verification with a specialized ASIC security center in Israel that creates cryptographic IPs and next-gen techniques to make chips hack-free.

Sustainable long-term growth

India is becoming an engineering services hub, and many companies are engaged in engineering design services for semiconductor manufacturers and big technology companies. LTTS has been a reliable partner for the industrial sector for years with expertise in motion controllers and SEMI standards and has solid long-term goals.

"We are also aligning our semiconductor practice to our Sustainability Big Bet, as our offerings are designed to help manufacturers reduce emissions and meet net-zero targets," Chadha said. "Our innovations, such as the solar connectivity drone enabled through next-generation design and advanced network, are proof of this commitment. As India transitions towards smart and connected factories, our high tech practice will be a key enabler by helping manufacturers embrace Industry 4.0."

The engineering services industry in India is experiencing robust growth, and LTTS is a leading player in the field. The company's expertise and innovative approach also make it an ideal partner for helping India's transition to smart and connected factories and facilitating the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies.