IIT-Madras develops India’s first microprocessor ‘Shakti’

The researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras IIT Madras have designed India’s first indigenous microprocessor, which will reduce dependency on imported microchips and the risk of cyber attacks. The ‘Shakti’ project is aimed at developing industrial-grade microprocessors and other components of the microprocessor ecosystem. It is partly funded by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), as part of two-decade-old efforts to develop indigenous microprocessors.

The microprocessor called ‘Shakti’ was designed, developed and booted by IIT Madras with a microchip fabricated in the Semi-Conductor Laboratory of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at Chandigarh. It has been developed at an outlay of about Rs 11 crore. The microprocessor will reduce dependency on imported microchips and the risk of cyber attacks. It could be used in mobile computing, wireless and networking systems, besides reducing reliance on imported microprocessors in communication and defense sectors. It may also provide power to mobile phones, surveillance cameras, and smart meters. The brain of all computing and electronic devices, many such microprocessors that are connected are used to operate larger high-speed systems and supercomputers.

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Key Highlights

  • The design of the microprocessor originates from an open source instruction set architecture (ISA), a set of basic instructions called RISC V, which makes it customizable to any device. The RISC-V is an open, free ISA, enabling a new era of processor innovation through open standard collaboration.
  • It delivers a new level of free, extensible software and hardware freedom on architecture, paving the way for the next 50 years of computing design and innovation.
  • The ISA is basically the programming or machine language and provides commands to the processor instructing it on the functions to be executed.
  • The concept to design the chip was germinated in 2011 and some preliminary works were then carried out. Bluespec, an open-source high-level synthesis language, went into making the chips.
  • Initially, the researchers created a normative design to show the feasibility. Different devices may need a different type of hardware and maybe even new features or instructions.

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