It has been a while since low-cost Indian engineers graduated to high quality and higher wages. If further proof was needed, it came this week, when the world's leading microchip maker, Intel, revealed the latest of its chips.
While its headquarters and foundries may lie in places like the Silicon Valley, Oregon and Malaysia, the design that runs inside the latest of its chips now have a high component of work done by Indian engineers in Bangalore. In that sense, to its old "Intel Inside" slogan for computers that use its microprocessors, the semiconductor giant may add its own "India Inside" tag to its chips.
If software leader Microsoft's Vista operating system had a good deal of its work happening out of its Hyderabad centre,
the Intel India Development Centre (IIDC) in Bangalore played a key role in development of the company's new mobile platform Intel Centrino Duo and Intel Centrino Pro processor for personal computers, which were showcased this week. Operational since 1998, IIDC is Intel’s largest non-manufacturing site outside the US and houses more than 2,000 designers.
Intel is not alone in the field. In fact Texas Instruments started the phenomenon way back in the 1980s, though its high-tech work done in Bangalore was overshadowed by widespread media attention given to low-cost IT service exporters such as Wipro and Infosys.
Texas Instruments has now tied up with Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the place that produced the first managing director of its Bangalore facility, Srini Rajam, to tap the Indian resource pool.
"The value drivers in India have changed. We have now moved from cost-savings to quality of talent," says Rahul Bedi, Director, Corporate Affairs, Intel South Asia.
"Back then, we were not involved in core developmental work and were handling smaller roles," said Bedi. Indian techies have now moved up the value chain and can claim significant portions of the global product releases, he added.
Vinod Agarwal, founder of SemIndia, the consortium which is setting up India's first fabrication facility for chips (fab) said, "Companies like Symantec, Cisco and Microsoft have more faith in Indian software professionals to design innovative and world-class products that can compete with Israel and other international developers."
Bedi cited examples where Indian developers are designing and testing key elements on the Intel ‘Crestline’ chipset and other chipset software for Microsoft Windows Vista.
"We are also expanding our R&D efforts in core areas like attaining power efficiency for devices and terascale CPUs (central processing units)"” he said.
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