Q: What are your thoughts on Moore's Law as the computer chip industry celebrates its 40th anniversary this week?
A: Moore's law has begun to run out of steam after 40 years of predictable scaling. Chip density will not continue to double for another two decades. We will reach a plateau in this respect within the next five years or so.
The chip industry is becoming a true commodity and the consumer is going to be the biggest beneficiary of 30 to 40 years of innovations in semiconductor chip technologies.
Chips far more powerful than the Pentium will power our cell phones, cameras and game machines. Just like no one today notices the amount of small electric motors embedded in devices ranging from electric shavers, blenders to vacuum cleaners and refrigerators, in the near future we will take for granted dozens of chips embedded in household items.
Q: What are the prospects of India emerging as a leading chip design centre of the world?
A: Indian engineers in the US have played a dominant role in the development of the Pentium, Sparc and PowerPC microprocessors.
Now Indian engineers in India are helping develop advanced microprocessors like the Centrino and advanced digital signal processors. Already, start-ups like InSilica in Bangalore are building complex network processors with hundred of million transistors on a single chip.
Q: Are we pursuing the right policies?
A: No, we need to be far more aggressive. China is providing financial assistance to grow a thousand chip design houses by 2010. There is a 30-50 per cent subsidy on CAD software -- tools required for chip design. They are also aggregating the needs of hundreds of companies to leverage better deals.
The slowdown in Moore's law has once again opened a window of opportunity for India to build state of the art fabrication units without fear of them becoming obsolete quickly.
India's strong position as an intellectual property protector as opposed to that of China should be a compelling reason for many customers and suppliers to realise lower cost of manufacturing their designs in an Indian unit.