India launches Digital India RISC-V (DIR-V)

Digital India RISC-V Microprocessor (DIR-V) Program was recently announced with an overall aim to enable the creation of Microprocessors for the future in India.

Utility: UPSC, JPSC, BPSC Prelims & Mains
Section: Economy: Sectors / Science & Technology: ICT

Key Points

  • DIR-V program is aimed to catalyze the country’s semiconductor ecosystem through mass production of next-generation indigenous microprocessors.
  • The Indian government has set a target of achieving the production of heavy-grade commercial silicon and design wins by December 2023.
  • In the same pursuit, five MoUs have been signed between the government and entities like Sony India, ISRO, BEL, etc. for promoting the use of indigenously developed RISC-V microprocessors Shakti and Vega.
    • This program is a component of the Semicon India program, which aims to position India as a global hub for electronic system design and manufacturing.
  • India mainly relies on semiconductor imports and the ongoing chips shortage is affecting production capacity among automotive, consumer electronics, and mobile handset makers.
  • Consequently, the DIR-V program intends to make India self-reliant in semiconductor technology.
  • The IIT Madras Director Professor V. Kamakoti has been named the Chief Architect of the DIR-V program
  • While C-DAC Scientist Krishnakumar Rao has been named Program Manager.

About Indigenous microprocessors: Shakti and Vega

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, in partnership with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), has indigenously developed two open-source microprocessors named Shakti (32 bit) and Vega (64 bit), respectively.
  • The program is under the purview of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeitY) “Microprocessor Development Programme”.

What is the Semicon India program?

  • India announced the Semicon India Program on December 15, 2021.
  • The program intends to catalyze India’s semiconductor ecosystem in order to compete with other bases in Asia to reduce India’s import dependencies.
  • The government hopes to attract large global chip makers to make India their production base.
  • India wants to achieve technological leadership in these areas of strategic importance.
  • Source: pib.gov.in and India-briefing.com
  • RISC-V is an open standard instruction set architecture (ISA) based on established RISC principles. Five refers to the number of generations of RISC architecture that was developed. Unlike most other ISA designs, RISC-V is provided under open source licenses that do not require fees to use.
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