Artificial Machines enables smart product innovation with strategic partnerships with Mentor Graphics and Qualcomm

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There are a lot of things in electronics manufacturing happening across, in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. When that activity in electronics manufacturing happens in India, it is a matter of great pride for the country. The company bringing pride to India is the Pune-based Artificial Machines.

Artificial Machines was founded in April 2008. Headquartered in Pune, India, it has sales office on Wall Street, New York, USA. It is focusing on IoT, smart machine design, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Haze
Manish Buttan, CEO, Artificial Machines, said: “We are one of the oldest IoT companies. We work with automotive and electronics companies. The HAZE platform was developed in 2015. We are focused on converting traders to makers. We are designing over 20 product lines in consumer electronics.

“We are currently building the TV platform for Videocon and the Videocon Aryabot 2 AC, which is in progress right now. For Eureka Forbes, we have done a few water purifiers. We are also working on a few products for Tata Housing including a door phone, smart lock, smart camera, fire safety, and several products for Godrej & Boyce.

“We are a design house, and designers at the PCB level. We make everything in India. The idea is to develop the IP. We can connect anything built on the HAZE platform. For example, a video doorphone has built-in VoIP. We are lowering the automation costs as well.”

What is HAZE?
Artificial Machines has developed the HAZE platform. The HAZE platform is not just an IoT platform. It is a smart product innovation platform.

“We will develop artificial intelligence for cars by 2018. We will also build the entire electronics for the cars,” Buttan added.

Artificial Machines has partnered some of the largest OEMs in India that have licensed the HAZE platform to develop a range of products in India. Buttan said: “As of today, we have five licensees – Eureka Forbes, Godrej & Boyce. Tata Housing, Usha International, and Videocon. Their products will soon show the ‘Powered by HAZE’ Logo.

“All HAZE Platform Intellectual Property belongs to Artificial Machines. Our customers are promoting the platform by adding our logo to their products. The HAZE License requires that the primary components be purchased through us. The HAZE IP is free to license for customers and we charge a subsidized customization fee for modify HAZE for their requirements. We are heading into a $20-$50 million turnover over the next five years.

“PCBs are being made in India. Also, in China. With Usha, we are doing smart fans, air coolers and lighting brands. With Godrej & Boyce we are doing refrigerators, ACs, smart washing machines, etc.

Over the years, Artificial Machines has participated in developing products such as the Mahindra XUV BlueSense App, Savant home automation System, Vidyo conference platform, Lifeshield home security system, Brookstone grill monitoring app / baby monitor app, and the Videocon Aryabot AC, which are in the market.

Products to be launched include a few water purifiers, smart refrigerator, and next-gen air conditioners. Products that will be completing this year include air coolers, smart lighting, Android TVs, Android refrigerators, video door phones, smart locks, smart cameras, fire safety equipment, and washing machines.

Roles of Mentor Graphics and Qualcomm
What role does Mentor Graphics play in all of this? Mentor Graphics came into the picture, and gave Artificial Machines their tools. Mentor PCB development and validation process involves over 75 processes of reliability. Mentor Graphics has strategically partnered with Artificial Machines and invested EDA tools worth $15 million.

This makes Artificial Machines have the world’s best design tools in PCB design, embedded, automotive, chip design, and manufacturing validation.

Buttan said: “We have a strategic partnership with Mentor Graphics. All of the tools are available to traders. We also have an agreement with Qualcomm. Each OEM can innovate their ideas.”

Qualcomm has been very supportive with the Snapdragon chip licensing to Artificial Machines. Microchip is a premium partner for low-and mid-segment processors. All of these give Artificial Machines some of the widest range of processors and platforms to work with – Bare Metal, Linux and Android. This makes it easy for customers to build Android hardware with HAZE licensing.

Artificial Machines also works closely with several large global manufacturers. Having in-house Valor manufacturing validation tools allows it to provide pre-validated hardware for manufacturing.

Thanks to Mentor Graphics for introducing me to this company.

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SAP India launches ‘code unnati’ for digital literacy

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SAP India recently collaborated with ITC and L&T Public Charitable Trust to launch ‘code unnati’ a multi-year, collaborative, digital literacy and software skills development initiative in India.

code unnati has six partners – NASSCOM Foundation, HOPE Foundation, Pratham InfoTech Foundation, Agasatya International Foundation, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, and UNDP India.The initiative aims to achieve the UN’s sustainable goals of: no poverty, quality education, decent work and economic growth, and partnerships for the goals.

In the pilot phase till next year, the initiative will focus on the rural areas of Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, as well as the urban disadvantaged demographies in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Pune, Vizag and Hyderabad.

Innovations through collaboration – Making of a digital literate society
There was a panel discussion, titled ‘Innovations through collaboration – Making of a digital literate society’. Shrikant Sinha, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation, said that the collaborations themselves need to be scaled up.

Dr. Madhav Chavan, founder, Pratham Foundation, said that optimum results have to be defined. He urged for digital literacy to go mobile.

Clement Chauvet, chief-skills and business development, UNDP India, noted that by using Project Disha, UNDP has managed to put 1 million girls/women to have some opportunity in life. He added that there is a need to bridge the information gap. There is also a need to ensure that the recepients were digitally literate as well. There should be a practical, blended element to spread literacy.

Ms Gayatri Mishra Oleti, senior deputy GM and head Operations, L&T Public Charitable Trust, said there are many ITC applications and all had benefitted. The question is: how do we reach out to the last mile people?There is a need to partner with the local governments.

Dr. Asheesh Ambasta, exective VP and head of Social Investments, ITC Ltd, said that multi-stakeholder partnerships are of importance. According to him, the learning with multiple partners is how do you align them with the set of project priorities? There is a need to identify roles for each partner, and set up a mechanism to review the program regularly.

Krishnan Chatterjee, head of marketing, SAP Indian Sub-continent, added that there is something empowering about technology. It can reduce inefficiencies and waste. He cited the example of Kolkata’s Maatir Manush, a program where they photograph 3-5 million farmers regarding crop queries.

img_20161202_031418Deb Deep Dasgupta, president and MD, SAP Indian Sub-continent, said that digital India promises that India will go on to become the world’s third-largest digital economy by 2025-30. However, lot of work needs to be done as only 10 percent of the Indian population is digitally literate.

He said that code unnati is India’s first-ever corporate-citizen initiative. These are:
a) Provide employable software IT skills for youth and women
b) Digital literacy for all
c) Provide employment to at least 50 percent of the youth trained
d) Digtal enablement of the Gram Panchayats.

How digital empowerment will make India more inclusive
There was a second panel discussion on ‘How digital empowerment will make India more inclusive.’

CT Sadanandan, VP Corporate Services & CSR, Tata Communications, said that awareness and the availability of an infrastructure should be present. Stakeholders at corporate India can make a difference.

Ms Kabi Sharman, India head, Pyxera Global, said corporate skills and knowledge are not being shared by the NGOs. There is also a need to understand people’s lives better by interacting with the local population.

Ajith Basu, Agasathya International Foundation, pointed out two key questions, namely, who are we going to teach, and how can we enable a child to learn! The idea is to inspire learning. There must be more collaborative learning.

Ian Correa, board member, HOPE Foundation, said there is a need to focus on the journey itself. And, if possible, to acquire special skills. The poor people of India require opportunities. Together, we can plug the gaps.

Mahantesh GK, CEO, Samarthanam Trust for Disabled, said the acceptance of being disabled is itself key. Technology and opportunity go together. Digital revolution has already brought massive progress. More needs to be done.

What India needs to do in satellite broadband?

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On the World Telecom Day, 2017, the Broadband India Forum hosted the seminar, “Innovations, Technology & Satcom for Big Data, Broadband and Digital India”, in New Delhi.

Let’s start by looking at the primary growth drivers of communication satellites. According to TV Ramachandran, president, Broadband India Forum (BIF), as of Dec. 31, 2015, there were 1,381 total operational satellites, globally.

India has totally 124 operational satellites, which is only 9 percent of the global satellite population. India, which is the target focus of ‘The next Billion in Broadband has less than 5 percent of the total communication satellites globally (33, compared to ~700 globally). Out of 33 satellites, only 28 are dedicated communication satellites (and predominantly in the less-efficient C and Ku bands).

All this puts India far below the global norms on satellite communications. India needs large private investment to augment satellite capacity for a Digital India.

The top 10 economies use broadband from communication satellites. There are millions of subscribers in USA, Canada, West Europe, Australia, Japan, Brazil, etc. Satellite broadband is delivering 50Mbps speeds with today’s technology. Private satellite companies are set to deliver 1Gbps in near future.
BIF
(L to R): TV Ramachandran, president of BIF, Mrs. Aruna Sundarajan,  Secretary, MeitY and DoT, Shyamal Ghosh, Chairman emeritus, BIF, N Sivasailam, Addl. Secretary, Telecom, Dept. of Telecom, and Anil Prakash, secretary general, BIF.

Ubiquitous satellite broadband 
Satellite broadband is ubiquitous. It eliminates ROW issues which plague wired buildouts. It is available everywhere, even on planes, ships, trains and in homes and villages.

As per ITU, India ranks 131 out of 155 globally on fixed broadband penetration and at 155 out of 187 countries for mobile broadband. It has a huge urban/rural digital divide.
Rural broadband is at only 6 percent against urban broadband at 50 percent.

Terrestrial broadband technologies involve difficult rollout, prohibitive costs and long timeframes to deploy. Satellite broadband can be achieved almost on tap. The use of satellite for broadband becomes absolutely imperative.

India lagging behind in satellite broadband
All communication satellites in India belong only to ISRO. These are built on older, less efficient C and Ku-band technologies. Globally, private companies are investing in communication satellites.

Government and agencies are focusing on space exploration, new space technology, military and defence applications. Commercial communications have been opened to open markets. Built with new Ka-band technology is enabling speeds of up to 100Mbps/1 Gbps.

About $5 billion+ of investment has been committed to communication satellites
globally from Intelsat, Inmarsat, ViaSat, Hughes, SpaceX, OneWeb. India has currently no private investment in communication satellites.

Globally, satcom is competitive to terrestrial technologies for rural and remote areas. However, it lags behind in India due to inadequate capacity /availability, lack of use of new innovations and technologies, as well as higher costs. In India, costs of satellite broadband are much higher than that in the US.

Bringing costs on par with global norms
What can be done to reduce the costs and bring it on par with global norms? Satcoms can offer HTS with Ka-band, so that the cost/Gb could reduce by a factor of 7 along with multiple-fold increase in capacity. There should be relaxation of outdated technical specifications. There is a need to free up the market and allow open competition between international and domestic satellite operators.

There should be an increase in the term period of the contract between the satellite
operators and service providers from three years to at least 10-15 years to enjoy economies of scale. Future new applications and new markets would require at least 100x more capacity than current applications.

What India should do?
So, what does India needs to do? First, commercial communications through satellite needs to be maximised for Digital India and for bridging rural-digital divide. There is a need to facilitate private investment and manufacture in communication satellites. India also need s a direct investment potential of $2 billion+.

There is a need to leverage the expert institutions like DoT and TRAI for managing policies and implementation of the same , as in the case of terrestrial broadband technologies. At least $2-5 billion FDI expected by 2025 if private investment is permitted.

The current policy permits liberalization. Open Sky policy has been there since 2000. However, procedures and processes have to facilitate implementation of Open Sky policy in letter and spirit. Private participation is needed to boost India’s satellite program.

There is a need to approve long-pending proposals/applications for setting up
domestic satellites. As of now, 17 years of liberalized Satcom could have added at least 400 million rural broadband customers today, besides connecting all 250,000
GPs (of Bharat Net ) and given a significant boost to the rural economy.

Use satellites for Internet
In his welcome address, Shyamal Ghosh, IAS (Retd), Emeritus chairman of Broadband India Forum, stated that: “Use of satellite for providing Internet services is perhaps the only way to cover the entire country. Its importance of meeting the objectives of Digital India and for providing ‘Broadband to All’ by 2020 cannot be overstated.”

Ghosh pointed out that while India, through the Department of Space and ISRO has made rapid strides in the areas of manufacture and launch of indigenous satellites and launch vehicles for satellites, we have a long way to go to meet the communication requirements of our country in an affordable, always available and accessible-to-all manner. While the global satellite industry is pegged at around 600 communication satellites, India has only a handful of them – all of which belong to ISRO.

BIF warmly congratulated ISRO for yet another feather in its resplendent cap, and celebrating the launch of the GSAT-9. It is a superb testimony to ISRO’s capabilities in satellite technology.

Mentor unveils Veloce Strato emulation platform with highest RoI

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Mentor Graphics Corp. recently announced the Veloce StratoM emulation platform.

The Veloce Strato platform is Mentor’s third generation data-center friendly emulation platform. It is said to be the only emulation platform with full scalability across both software and hardware. Mentor is also launching the Veloce StratoM high-capacity emulator and Veloce Strato OS enterprise-level operating system.

So, how is the Veloce StratoM platform suitable for data centers than previous version?

According to Montu Makadia, one of the worldwide ATM – Emulation experts at Mentor Graphics ; with the Veloce StratoM emulator, there are no major changes to the lab requirements.

There is the same footprint, lower total power consumption, and lower total cooling requirement (air-cooled, air extraction from top). There is an added flexibility on the door and panel (new in Veloce Strato) that makes system maintenance easier.

The Veloce Strato Platform plans for highest effective capacity (up to 15BG) available. Does it really go up to 15BG? If yes, where are the test results?

According to a Mentor Graphics’ spokesman, as of now, no test results are required. Connecting emulators via a sophisticated connection method is common for Veloce. In this case, the Veloce Strato Link can be used to connect multiple Veloce StratoM emulators to reach 15BG capacity.

“We have installations at companies that will not allow us to talk about them by name. These are large, multinational companies with very advanced verification and validation requirements. The installations have gone extremely well and deployment is underway and happening without issue,” the spokesman added.

Mentor is saying there will be a roadmap to 15BG over five years and beyond? What if others come up with a faster system in between?

The spokesperson said: “We can’t predict what other emulation vendors will do in the next five years. We have done our competitive research and believe that we are uniquely positioned to have, both, the largest capacity available in 2021, as well as the emulation platform with the highest RoI.”

Finally, how is the Veloce Strato OS enterprise-level operating system a step above the earlier OS?

The Veloce Strato OS is the centerpiece of the technology for the overall Veloce architecture. The Veloce operating system basically enables three things: The first is the primary core compiler flow. When you use an emulator, you need to compile the design. You synthesize and partition, and move from an RTL/netlist to something that is mapped to the hardware (P&R).

The Veloce Strato OS delivers an integrated, fully automated, single step compilation flow with about 3x faster compilation time and with a 100 percent compile success rate. The compilation time and a 100 percent compile success is one of the key differentiators compared to an FPGA-based emulator.

Veloce

The OS enables all the use models of verification with a unified compilation, runtime and debug flow. That includes traditional ICE (physical targets-based stimulus), the other virtual use models (SW device models) and testbench acceleration (SW test benches, UVM, SV, SC, TLM, etc.).

The third unique attribute is advanced debug. In addition to the waveform support, it supports Livestream to view a set of important signals, key register for long emulation runs as tests are progressing and Veloce’s unique ‘save and restore’ replay to restore emulation sessions instantaneously at a specified time point for detailed debug activities without re-running the emulation from the beginning.

Move to emulation continues to gather momentum: Dr. Wally Rhines

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Here is the concluding part of my discussion with Dr. Walden C. Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics.

Getting billion-gate design correct
In EDA, is there now some chance of getting a billion-gate design correct on first pass?

Dr. Rhines said: “Absolutely! Today’s methodology is up to the task and customers have already reported “billion gate equivalent” designs, i.e., 4 billion transistor, correct on first pass. Correct logic is a much easier challenge than full production readiness on first pass!

Rhines“Achieving targeted power dissipation and timing has been more of a challenge but that’s where recent tool improvements are having their greatest impact. Almost all designs of this size now go through exhaustive verification, including power analysis, using emulation. That change in methodology has increased the cycles of verification by more than three orders of magnitude.

“Beyond simply achieving functional silicon with acceptable power and timing, more and more companies are now using EDA tools to assure a rapid ramp to high yield in production. This requires use of a whole new generation of “design for test” tools directed at defect driven yield analysis.

“By our measures, some of the top semiconductor companies analyze more than 500,000 defective parts every day to identify design and process problems.”

Standardization of SoC verification flow
Next, what is the status of the standardization of SoC verification flow today?

He said that Mentor Graphics has long worked on providing leading functional verification products. “We are doubling down on perfecting tools that are part of an enterprise platform where common testbench stimulus, verification IP, and standard verification languages can be used up and down the tool chain. However, the flow belongs to the customer.

“We do not try to enforce a “standard verification flow”. We are happy to accommodate unique customer needs and trust our customer to know the unique requirements of their own markets.

It would be interesting to know what has been happening regarding the coverage and power across all aspects of verification?

According to Dr. Rhines, power management debug has permeated all aspects of traditional HDL based verification. For large SoCs, debugging power-management related problems is a very difficult task. Power is managed wholly or in part by software. Increasingly, validation of power managed designs, including power estimation, requires hardware accelerated solutions such as emulation and prototypes.

New releases of the UPF standard include lots of new capabilities that help verify power usage but that do require additional effort to analyze. Examples include dynamic power related messages, automatic power specific assertion generation and support for the entire flow from simulation through emulation and prototypes.

In addition, lots of designs now use new tools for power management verification, static analysis, rule based power checks and power-aware logic equivalence checking.

Similarly, what is happening in active power management today?

He said that active power management creates the need for functional verification. Traditionally, power has been managed via clock gating, power gating and dynamic voltage and frequency scaling.

The first two methods (clock and power gating) directly impact functionality necessitating the need for things like isolation with clamp values on inputs or outputs to a power gated block of logic, retention registers and gating logic for clocks, as well as the associated control signals or registers and the state machines, which manage the transitions from one state to another.

Verification of the active power management logic and control states necessitates the need for UPF support in verification solutions. The challenge in debugging power management issues drives the value in dynamic checks to ensure valid power down and up sequences, save/restore or resetting/write-before-read behavior of registers in power domains and proper activation and de-activation of isolation logic values.
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Above average growth for semiconductor industry in 2017: Dr. Wally Rhines

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It has always been a great pleasure chatting up with Dr. Walden (Wally) C. Rhines, chairman and CEO of Mentor Graphics. It has been a while since we discussed the global semiconductor industry in such detail, and therefore, the latest experience is even more memorable.

RhinesFirst, I asked Dr. Wally Rhines how is Mentor predicting the global semicon industry to perform in 2017?

He said that the growth of the semiconductor market has averaged anywhere between 3-5 percent throughout the 2000’s. In most recent years, since 2008/2009, IC units have grown consistently at a rate of 6-8 percent,, indicating continued demand for semiconductor technology.

ASPs have been drifting downward for a long time with only a handful of exceptions since 1995. The trend appears to be moderating in the last decade, but the downward pressure in pricing has pushed the overall revenue to 3-5 percent growth rate mentioned earlier.

For 2017, most industry research firms and analysts are expecting a relatively positive year (the average forecast across 10 semiconductor research firms is currently at 5.5 percent). Mentor Graphics expects that number to be very conservative due to changing dynamics in the semiconductor industry and how the market is actually measured.

Dr. Rhines said: “Within the last decade there has been an emergence of systems companies designing chips for internal consumption. Those chips are typically not measured at all, or are only partially measured if they are produced by a foundry company. We see the trend in several important areas like smartphone manufacturers.

“Apple and Samsung have been manufacturing their own application processors for some time. However, there is an ever increasing list of other market leaders following with their own designs.

“We are also seeing a number of companies involved with cloud services or other data center intensive companies designing chips for their internal consumption. Unless something unexpected occurs, 2017 should be a good year for the semiconductor industry with growth above average.”

Next, how has been the growth in EDA for 2016? How will the performance be in 2017? Where does Mentor come in all of this?

According to Dr. Rhines, EDA had a strong year in 2016 with total growth of about 9 percent overall, including SIP. Tools alone had growth of about 7.5 percent. Demand for tools continues to look strong for the industry as there remains a strong focus on the leading-edge driving the need for advanced design technology.

Moore’s law continues to drive the industry into smaller nodes as companies are preparing for 10nm, 7nm and 5nm nodes. Advanced nodes continue to drive EDA tool adoption in manufacturing and design.

Additionally, increased challenges and methodologies in functional verification drive technology adoption in enterprise verification including areas like emulation, which had a resurgence in 2016 after several flat years.

Dr. Rhines elaborated: “We are seeing increased activity in areas like ESL as well with ESL Synthesis having its best year ever. PCB design is also enjoying a resurgence in growth as designs become more complex and new design methodologies like System of Systems design begin to emerge.

“In 2016, Mentor Graphics reported an all-time record of $1.285 billion, an 8.6 percent growth or a full point higher than industry tool growth of 7.5 percent. The proposed merger with Siemens should bring additional resources to Mentor’s R&D and customer support capability so our fourth quarter results suggest that customers are pleased with the outlook.”

Part II of this interview appears in April where I will be discussing standardization of SoC verification flow, billion-gate design, power management, etc.

Thanks are due to Raghu Panicker, country sales director, and Veeresh Shetty,  marketing manager – Europe and India, Mentor Graphics.

Gionee launches A1 mobile phone in India

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Gionee has launched its first flagship mobile phone of the year, the A1, in India.

GioneeThe new model offers longer battery life, 4010 mAh battery, with ultrafast charging capability, and enhanced picture quality to capture great selfies. It has a stunning 16MP front camera, which offers clearer and more beautiful selfies. The A1 is loaded with a faster and safer fingerprint unlock, and Android 7.0 Nougat with Amigo 4.0, amongst a host other innovative features.

Gionee also unveiled #Selfiestan, a world of selfies that celebrates inclusiveness of varied expressions of today’s Hindustani. The unique campaign, #Selfiestan, is targeted at the growing breed of selfie enthusiasts in India. Selfies have undergone a socio cultural shift in the country to be the most powerful tool of inclusive expression.

Arvind R Vohra, country CEO and MD, Gionee India, said: “Today’s generation views the world from their front camera. They live for creating and celebrating experiences out of moments. At Gionee, we want to celebrate this inclusiveness by dissolving boundaries and creating a world of equals where every moment is worth capturing. Through #Selfiestan, Gionee plans to give India a sense of ownership and belonging by creating a world of Hindustan ki selfies. With the new A1, we take our first step towards building #Selfiestan.”