Silizium Circuits achieves milestone with TSMC, plans further semiconductor innovations

Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: Silizium Circuits

Indian semiconductor startup Silizium Circuits is a promising company receiving support from the Taiwan government and stationed at the Tainan site of Taiwan Tech Arena (TTA-South), looking to deepen its network and build partnerships in the local semiconductor ecosystem.

Silizium Circuits has produced two working semiconductor chips in collaboration with TSMC, with more in development. The company was selected for a program by Taiwan's National Science and Technology Commission (NSTC) and TTA (a startup accelerator under NSTC), offering them an opportunity to understand and engage with Taiwan's semiconductor ecosystem.

Rijin John, CEO and co-founder of Silizium Circuits, told DIGITIMES Asia that the company is also working with multiple Taiwanese foundries on various projects.

"We did the first-generation 180 nm analog RF chip with TSMC and just taped out the second one successfully last week," John proudly showed a sample chip the size of a grain of rice to DIGITIMES Asia. "Even in the midst of the chip shortage during the pandemic and everything, TSMC was still doing their best to accommodate startup shuttle runs."

Silizium is also working on gallium arsenide (GaAs) and gallium nitride (GaN) chips in collaboration with smaller fabs.

John said that being an analog RF semiconductor IP provider, it is essential to be present in Taiwan and build strong connections with foundries, integrated device manufacturers (IDMs), IC design houses, and IP channels because Taiwan has a very comprehensive ecosystem.

Innovation recognized

With a background in electronics and communication engineering and experience in telecommunications, John began his entrepreneurial journey in 2014 after leaving his research partner role at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs. Initially, he co-founded a business with friends, which he exited in 2020.

A pivotal moment came when one of his classmates Dr. Arun Ashok, an RF semiconductor expert, was exploring opportunities to start a company in India. Leveraging John's entrepreneurial experience and his partner's technical expertise, they decided to launch Silizium Circuits, focusing on RF semiconductor chips and wireless IP products. The company was established in September 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

India has a significant semiconductor talent pool, yet most are in services rather than product development. Silizium Circuits aimed to position itself as a Wireless Semiconductor IP-focused product company. They received support from the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), Department of Telecom (DoT), Fabless Chip Incubator (FabCI) at IIT Hyderabad, Department of Science and Technology (DST) IIT Bombay TIH, IIITM-K, IIM-V, IIM-K, Rajagiri Engineering College, Kerala Start-up Mission and Maker Village.

Their first major achievement was developing a chip in just 9 months, with a performance comparable to or better than leading brands. This rapid development and high performance earned them the Most Promising Semiconductor Startup Award from the India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA) and first place in a similar category from the Electronics Industry Association of India (ELCINA).

Overall, Silizium Circuits' journey reflects the synergy of technical expertise, entrepreneurial spirit, and strategic support from both government and private stakeholders, positioning them as a notable player in the semiconductor industry.

Silizium Circuits, has received several accolades and funding from both state and central governments. In Taiwan, their collaboration with semiconductor fabs has been pivotal. Initially, the company focused on CMOS technology and is now advancing to gallium arsenide semiconductors, with a tapering scheduled for August. Additionally, they are developing gallium nitride for high-power applications.

Aim high to be India's pride

The strengthening collaboration between Silizium Circuits and Taiwanese semiconductor fabs has facilitated technology development, particularly in creating IP solutions for various applications. This partnership is seen as a collective effort to enhance connectivity, networking, and healthcare solutions, ultimately making life easier and simpler for people.

Semiconductors now play a crucial role in a wide range of domains, from medical devices and sensors to automotive applications. Silizium Circuits plays a critical role in various sectors requiring connectivity, key domains include 5G, Sub GHz IoT, medical devices, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC and GNSS for numerous applications such as smart homes, wearables, personal devices, audio, entertainment, health, fitness, automotive, and industrial systems.

With the shift from wired to wireless communication, particularly in IoT (Internet of Things), wireless solutions are essential in agriculture, logistics, retail & wholesale, mining, water and waste management, social care, consumers, manufacturing, access systems and others. Silizium products are positioned to cater to these wireless applications.

"Our focus is on providing high-performance, power-efficient semiconductor IP at competitive prices, makes our technology widely adoptable across the global market. We emphasize the importance of quality technology, as good products are welcomed universally," said John.

Silizium sets goals in three phases: to replace analog RF IP imports in India with indigenous Silizium Circuits' IPs by 2025, and to become India's largest analog RF IP exporter by 2030. It aims to be the most sought-after analog RF IP brand globally 5 years after that.

"In line and complementing with this aspiration, I see Silizium in Taiwan context, 5 years down the line, it aspires to be one of the most preferred high-volume business partners for the CMOS, GaAs, and GaN fabs in Taiwan, and will be an industry research partner for the universities in Taiwan.