RISCing a future PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 06 November 2018 03:52
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Ishaan Gera's edit


Indians have long been recognised as significant players in the field of computing. Vinod Dham is credited with the development of the Pentium processor, while Ajay Bhat is known as the father of USB. In spite of having some of the sharpest minds—Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google—none of the Indian techies have been able to create start-ups that can leave a mark in the world of computing. In fact, of the 7,700 start-ups as reported by NASSCOM, only a few have been able to look overseas. But, according to The Print, developments of a team from IIT Madras may change all that soon. The team has been able to develop an indigenous microprocessor called Shakti based on RISC – V architecture that will change the face of computing. RISC – V, having the ability to process commands faster and in fewer cycles, is expected to fuel the growth of the fourth industrial revolution by providing basic infrastructure for artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality. Reconfigurable Intelligent Systems Engineering (RISE) Laboratory at the IIT-Madras’ department of computer science and engineering is not the only one working in the field. The likes of NVIDIA and a US-based start-up, SiFive, which recently launched processors for real-time application, are also engaged in developing this architecture. Even if the start-up ultimately loses out to others in terms of pricing and application, with new technologies becoming a big thing and myriad applications for this architecture coming up including mobile computing, internet of things, wireless and networking systems, there may still be enough space in the market for them to operate without hiccups.

More important is the focus that this puts on university innovation. Although most engineering institutes have incubation centres, their contribution in hatching successful start-ups has been minimal. This, despite the fact that start-ups in recent years have seen a phenomenal rise in funding. Even the government’s efforts have been muted. The Atal Innovation Mission was set-up to change this, but college ratings like NAAC still do not give higher preference to colleges that have had a successful start-up. An excellent example to follow would be of Stanford University. Being the alma mater of many start-ups, Stanford has successfully been able to fund innovation, by taking stakes in their enterprises—Google being one of them—for use of university’s facilities and resources. Japan, now, is following a similar example, to propel innovation. Indian universities, for their better part, need to do the same. The government’s mission of a Start-up India will not be successful if all we can create are engineers and not innovators.



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