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People should really look at the Shakti program. It is really quite cool and because it releases everything in open-source we have a real shot at getting all kinds advanced processors and other free IPs.

There was a workshop at Chennai:

https://riscv.org/2018/07/risc-v-workshop-in-chennai-proceed...

Also, this is an old video but gives the basic information for the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoxOzvf78uQ

This is one of the leads: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=gsmadhusudan

I think I will repost his comment on Shakti, more people should see it, it was an answer in a thread about Shakti being an 'ARM killer':

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As the lead architect of Shakti and the guy who helped kick-start the project, I figure I am owed my 2 cents !

1. We never positioned it as an ARM killer ! That was the imagination of the reporter who wrote the article.

2. Shakti is not a state only project. Parts of Shakti are funded by the govt, these relate to cores and SoCs needed by the Govt. The defense and strategic sector procurement is huge, runs in the 10s of billions of USD.There is significant funding in terms of manpower, tools and free foundry shuttles provided by the private sector. In fact Shakti has more traction with the private sector than the govt sector in terms of immediate deployments.

3. The CPU eco-system including ARM's is a bit sclerotic. It is not the lic cost that is the problem, it is the inherent lack of flexibility in the model.

4. Shakti is not only a CPU. Other components include a new interconnect based on SRIO, GenZ with our extensions accompanied by open source silicon, a new NVMe+ based storage standard again based on open source SSD controller silicon (using Shakti cores of course), open source Rust based MK OS for supporting tagged ISAs for secure Shakti variants, fault tolerant variants for aerospace and ADAS applications, ML/AI accelerators based on our AI research (we are one of the top RL ML labs around). 4. the Shakti program will also deliver a whole host of IPs including the smaller trivial ones and also as needed bigger blocks like SRIO, PCIe and DDR4. All open source of course. 5. We are also doing our own 10G and 25G PHYs 6. A few startups will come out of this but that can wait till we have a good open source base. 7. The standard cores coming out of IIT will be production grade and not research chips.

And building a processor is still tough these days. Try building a 16 core, quad wide server monster with 4 DDR4 channels, 4x25G I/O ports, 2 ports for multi-socket support. All connected via a power optimized mesh fabric. Of course you have to develop the on-chip and off-chip cache coherency stuff too ! 8. And yes we are in talks with AMD for using the EPYC socket. But don't think they will bite.

Just ignore the India bit and look at what Shakti aims to achieve, then you will get a better picture. I have no idea how successful we will be and I frankly do not care. What we will achieve (and have to some extent already) is - create a critical mass of CPU architects in India - create a concept to fab eco-system ind India for designing any class of CPUs - add a good dose of practical CPU design knowhow into the engineering curriculum - become one of the top 5 CPU arch labs around

Shakti is already going into production. The first design is actually in the control system of an experimental civilian nuclear reactor. IIT is within the fallout zone so you can be sure we will get the design right. If you want any further info, mail me. My email is on the Shakti site. G S Madhusudan




Very different things are in Indian semiconductor industry in comparison to China:

1. Availability of professionals

India: makes tons of electronics engineers and semi specialists, but very very few of them find employment in the country.

China: there is a somewhat ok amount of undergraduate cadres, but for anything above this, you have to attract people from abroad. And yes, Chinese fabless were hiring from abroad since the very beginning. In fact, people who make SoCs at Allwinner, Rockchip and etc are around 50% undergrad and 50% masters level people. In their early days they were eager to hire random college grads and teach them verilog on site.

2. Goals

India: a research program, all work in the past few decades was about delivering some kind of proof of concept level "national chip"

China: make money quick - 9 out of 10 Chinese fabless start with bog down standard, off the shelf "solutions" from ARM, and add some flavour: here you have 4 channel camera controller, here eDP on chip, and here 10G Ethernet for pennies.

3. Markets

India: with all respect, the truth is there are none. And from many people I hear the same criticism - even if the 10th in a row state backed effort to make the "national chip" will succeed, there will be no chances of it ever sustaining it with microscopic domestic market as demanded by political mandate.

China: foreign markets - even 15 years ago, Chinese fabless well understood that their value proposition is actually lesser in domestic market than for the export manufacturing. Most Chinese buying a PC 20 years ago were not deliberating whether their PC has Sigmatel audio codec or some cheaper domestic analogue, but for somebody making stuff for export, every penny saved on expensive imported chip mattered a lot. Even today, the pattern holds: Chines domestic market smartphone models have high-end Qualcomm or Samsung flagship class chips in their majority, and for export they do Mediatek, Allwinner, and Spreadtrum


I think the difference could be that now they are playing in the RISC-V space that is developing in a global movement.

Now the Indian national program is developing and working together on the same stuff that many silicon valley start ups and western university do.

We are seeing something really exiting in the works and many companies in China also see the potential.


The biggest difference is that China can actually deliver. They built their own top supercomputer on a new architecture.


> open source Rust based MK OS for supporting tagged ISAs for secure Shakti variants

Oy! Got a link?


I don't think it is released. You might want to look at LowRisc tagged ISA stuff that has been released, Shakti and LowRisc will work together on some of that. You can boot that on FPGA.

However the Rust based OK is not there yet so far as I know.


Thanks for sharing this technical information.

Unfortunately, I'm not the kind of engineer to jump in and help build CPUs.

Makes me feel proud of the work at least partly from the city I grew up and studied in - Chennai, India.

Also very proud of the humble explanation of progress, and sensible goals. One could easily imagine a project like this getting distracted by PR &a chase headlines instead of technical progress (remember the cheap laptop competitor to OLPC?).

I cheer for this project and the people involved in it with all my heart.


Thanks for sharing this comment!

I wonder if part of the govt’s interest comes after discovery (-ies) of backdoors in US and China based processors — a national security motivation to develop indigenous manufacturing.

Congrats to this team. Great project!


That may be one. But I think another strong motivation is threat of sanctions from US. I don't know the specifics, but even most recently as today, there were news about US wanting India to stop buying oil from Iran or face sanctions (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/no-...).

There is a movie in Netflix called "Paramanu" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parmanu:_The_Story_of_Pokhran) that talks about how India was forced by US back then when it wanted to test nuclear bombs. There are also countless other stories including how US tried to stop India from buying cryogenics engine (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-overcame-US-...) and some GPS related incident in the recent Kargil war with Pakistan (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/How-Kargil-...).

This post in Reddit also has some good info: https://www.reddit.com/r/india/comments/27l015/what_fuels_in...




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