Rising demand for RISC-V amidst India's tech ecosystem expansion: Tessolve

Prasanth Aby Thomas, DIGITIMES, Bangalore 0

Credit: Tessolve

In light of the global effort to find alternatives to x86 systems amidst increasing demand, RISC-V systems are emerging as a solution to various challenges. Madhav Rao, senior vice president of engineering at Tessolve, recently told Digitimes Asia there is a strong interest in RISC-V from their customer base.

"We are indeed seeing interest from a variety of customers, including local ones," said Rao. "Government and defense organizations have also started showing interest. While they tend to move a bit slower than we would like, they have actively started inquiring. This is where we can play a significant role. We are capable of facilitating complete silicon platform realizations for them, including their RISC-V IC, system, and software, with our VLSI and Embedded Systems and Software division."

Tessolve anticipates providing comprehensive Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) services, including white box labeling, tailored for smaller clients beginning from the initial concept or architectural phase. Rao expressed optimism in their ability to support various Indian fabless OEMs and government entities in achieving substantial advancements.

India government efforts

This comes amidst the Indian government's significant efforts to encourage the development of India's tech ecosystem, especially in manufacturing. At the moment, turning customer interest into definite leads is still a concern.

"The investments we're making in labs and other areas are done with the hope that they will yield positive results," Rao said. "We have a dedicated sales team that focuses on Indian customers, and while we're seeing a lot of interest, turning that interest into tangible projects and designs may take some time."

Rao expects this to change in the next year or two. It's important to note that the platforms we're discussing aren't restricted to the Indian market alone. This approach is reusable and applicable to startups anywhere, making efforts from companies like Tessolve not just India-specific but globally relevant.

Manufacturing options

India's interest in developing a semiconductor manufacturing ecosystem is not a secret. Although a fab remains elusive, the government has made several promises, including fabs from Tower Semiconductor and Tata.

Rao said that while Tessolve doesn't focus on Silicon manufacturing, it believes in encouraging local manufacturing and offers complete support for ATE testing of silicon wafers and packaging in India, which it has been doing in India for 20 years.

"We're advocating strongly for manufacturing support from the government, though our focus isn't solely on manufacturing," Rao said. "Fabrication is undoubtedly a hot topic these days and we may see some concrete action in the next two years or so."

However, the reactions are mixed. Many believe it won't happen within two years, with some even suggesting it might take another ten years or more, taking much longer than some might hope.

Plans for the future

Tessolve has very ambitious growth plans in the near and longer term. Although specific numbers have not been disclosed, it surpassed $100 million a year ago and aims to double this figure every two to three years.

"This growth isn't limited to organic expansion; we're also exploring inorganic acquisitions to enhance competencies in specific areas or to improve our geographical presence," Rao said. "These two factors are crucial for our strategy regarding inorganic acquisitions. We've heavily invested in testing infrastructure, with recent lab openings in San Jose and Austin. As these facilities become more known, we anticipate a significant increase in our local testing business."

VLSI design has been a relatively late addition to Tessolve, with the original focus being on test engineering and PCB. In the past six to seven years, Tessolve's VLSI sector has seen strong growth, a part of which can be attributed to strategic inorganic acquisitions. The previous year marked a significant milestone when Tessolve enhanced its team with a significant physical design unit, enabling the company to provide comprehensive turnkey solutions to its clientele.

"We plan to further leverage this capability, possibly extending our services to include chip supply for companies interested in a complete ODM service for niche market segments," Rao added. "This approach might involve starting an ASIC turnkey business model, requiring collaboration with various partners, including IP vendors."