Interview with Guru Ganesan, MD, ARM India

“We license IP to a network of over 2,500 partners, which includes the world’s leading semiconductor and systems companies” – Guru Ganesan, Managing Director, ARM India

guru-ganeshanWhat is your India strategy?
ARM India is the company’s second biggest design center in the world after Cambridge. Currently, we work with multiple local partners and the Indian arms of global companies. We expect the electronics systems design and manufacturing industry to grow exponentially in India and there is a huge opportunity for ARM as the market leader in the semiconductor IP business.

Which all Indian and MNC smartphone and tablet players are you supplying your chipsets? And how has been the progress?
We license IP to a network of over 2,500 partners, which includes the world’s leading semiconductor and systems companies. We work with all of the major players apart from several smaller but equally interesting and exciting companies globally.

Are you also supplying your chipsets for low cost smartphones and tablets in the Indian market? If yes what is your role in terms of cost reduction?
ARM’s collaborative business model reduces costs and enables innovation and differentiation for its ecosystem of partners. At Computex in June of this year, ARM announced an optimized IP solution designed to power the 580 million mid-range mobile devices expected over the next two years. The mid-range market is projected to exceed the number of premium smartphones and tablets beginning in 2015. This suite of IP will provide consumers with premium features like virtualization, big.LITTLE processing and GPU compute at mid-range price points.

ARM partners can deliver smartphones and tablets with higher efficiency and reduced time to market. With a billion smartphones predicted to ship in 2013 and tablets projected to out-ship notebook PCs, device-makers can now provide quality, high-performance mobile products with the features that matter the most, at a range of price points.

Do you also supply chipsets to LTE players? How do you see LTE-TDD ecosystem in India and what is your role in this eco-system?  
Absolutely! ARM Cortex-R processors are used for the protocol stack processing in diverged baseband processor chips for 3G HSPA and LTE, leading to 4G LTE-Advanced. Cortex-R real-time processors offer the requisite high performance, deterministic response time and excellent energy efficiency that is required for 3.9G/LTE and 4G/LTE-Advance baseband tasks.

For example, the Cortex-R7 processor caters to the LTE space; it is designed for implementation on advanced silicon processes with an emphasis on improved energy efficiency, real-time responsiveness, advanced features and ease of system design.

The LTE-TDD ecosystem in India is still not mature and that has been a major roadblock for Indian telcos. However there is potential. The country’s low broadband penetration can be a major stimulant for areas such as 4G router sub-segment, and we will see increasing uptake of LTE over the coming years.

You have an India design center. What is the focus of India design centre?  
Key activities from our India team include physical IP, processor architecture validation, device validation, system level validation, system IP development, benchmarking activities and device driver development.

These are all areas of technology where new frontiers are constantly being pushed. ARM India staff are part of a very exciting journey.
I believe you also have a M2M play. What is the focus on the M2M side and what are the verticals and applications that you are focusing?
The space covered by machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies is expected to become very lucrative in the near future. More than 30 billion connected devices will exist by 2020, according to forecasts by IMS Research.

We have just announced the acquisition of Sensinode Oy, a Finland-based start up that develops IoT software. The project aims to deliver open source hardware and software to facilitate the building of intelligent connected devices that communicate with each other using sensors. ARM is dedicated to enabling a standards-based Internet of Things where billions of devices of all types and capabilities are connected through interoperable Internet protocols and web services.

While ARM’s partners sold 8.7 billion chips in 2012, the total market for embedded control was 17.2 billion chips. By 2020, the prediction is that the market will have grown to 27 billion chips driven mainly by Internet of Things devices. Many of those embedded controllers are in products that in the future will become part of the IoT.

What is ARM’s Connected Community and how does it help the industry? It’s relevance in the Indian context?
ARM Connected Community (CC) is an extensive global ecosystem covering all aspects of ARM -based design, from chip implementation to system design, to provide a platform solving industry challenges with the purpose of enabling designers to focus on differentiating features and an accelerated time-to-market for ARM Powered solutions.

ARM has the biggest ecosystem in the industry and we work very closely with all our partners. A number of market segments are identified as high growth opportunities in India and our partners will play a strong role in these domains. We continue to work with start-ups, VCs, industry bodies, governments, public and private sectors, MNCs, universities and various other stakeholders to develop the market in India.

What’s new that is happening in ARM’s R&D lab. Please elaborate?
Our research and development (R&D) teams are often working many years ahead of current trends and technologies. ARM collaborates and nurtures its relationships with its partners, which helps us to understand how technology is evolving and how we can help new products take flight.
This ranges across everything from mobile devices, to embedded products and networking infrastructure. For example, low power, high performance ARM-based servers are currently offering a positive disruption to the conventional server market that is set to improve energy efficiency and lower costs for many years to come.

As mentioned, the IoT is predicted to have a transformative effect on technology and improve billions of lives across the planet. ARM is also working closely with its partners to realize the many opportunities that lie ahead in areas such as wearable technology. So we’re looking into, and helping to shape, a very exciting future.

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