How Indian fabless startup's affordable new SoC will change India and global chip landscape

Prasanth Aby Thomas, DIGITIMES, Bangalore 0

Credit: Mindgrove Technologies

Indian fabless startup Mindgrove Technologies has introduced Secure IoT, a new RISC-V-based system on chip (SoC) to meet the increasing local demand.

The Chennai-based company, backed by Peak XV Partners, announced that its new chip would enable Indian OEMs to manufacture cost-effective, feature-rich devices. Clocked at 700 MHz, the chip is estimated to be 30 percent cheaper than comparable products on the market.

"India consumes over a billion chips a year, and anywhere between 10 to 50 million of them can be replaced by Secure IoT," said Shashwath TR, CEO and Co-Founder of Mindgrove Technologies

The company said the product is currently the only commercially available Indian chip in this segment. It is versatile and designed to handle various applications, from wearable devices like smartwatches to smart city infrastructure, including connected utilities such as electricity, water, and gas meters.

Additionally, it is well-suited for home automation systems including smart locks, fans, and speakers, as well as electric vehicle battery management and various other control systems.

Ready to meet demand

Naturally, India isn't the only market. Shashwath highlighted the global demand for microchips and expressed optimism that international buyers would also be enthusiastic about this new offering from India.

The company remains confident of its ability to meet the demand. Besides selling the chip, Mindgrove also offers design support to Indian brands to accelerate innovation and scale production in the country.

"Since we have already realized the physical design, making more chips is simply a question of manufacturing," Shashwath said. "The semiconductor supply chain we have leveraged is well equipped to deal with manufacturing and distributing chips, even at a scale of tens of millions of units. Secure IoT will be sold to companies looking to procure Indian chips for their use cases. We are talking to a few international players interested in using our chips in their products."

Aiming at mid-end market

Shashwath noted that the pandemic highlighted the significant disparity between high-end and low-end players in the embedded systems industry. The lower end of the market often prioritizes cost and volume over actual chip performance.

In response, Mindgrove Technologies aimed to design chips that cater to the middle market. Shashwath said that 'right-sizing' has been a key differentiator for Mindgrove, providing it with an advantage through enhanced flexibility, adaptability, security, and cost-efficiency, along with a robust support system.

"If you look at the current market, most of the chips are either expensive, feature-rich, high-end chips or cheap, unreliable, low-end ones," Shashwath said. "There is a gap for chips in the middle, especially in India. Secure IoT is designed to fill this gap. It is aptly designed for modern connected devices like smartwatches, meters, appliances, and even EV and other auto applications."

Security measures in place

Secure IoT has crypto-accelerators built into the silicon, making encryption and decryption much faster and safer than using software-based accelerators. It also has a One Time Programmable memory, equipped with a True Random Number Generator, making it secure even on silicon. This enables features such as chip-level secure boot.

Customers can either buy this chip and use it on their devices or get the chip along with an additional service to build their circuit board around it. "For teams that want more support, we can co-develop a design for their product," Shashwath said.