The V&PS-CDISHA will undertake various cutting-edge research, including building a new class of computers to handle emerging AI applications.
Shri Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India, inaugurated a state-of-the-art research facility at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) in the presence of Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, faculty and researchers.
The Veena and Pratap Subrahmanyam Center for Digital Intelligence, Security Hardware and Architecture (V&PS – CDISHA) will undertake various cutting-edge research using SHAKTI, the IIT Madras-developed indigenous microprocessor, including building a new class of computers to handle emerging AI applications.
This center has been made possible with the generous contribution of Rs. 6.76 Crore from Shri. Pratap Subrahmanyam, an IIT Madras Alumnus of the 1985 Batch (BT/ME) and a Fellow at VMware, Inc.
In addition, the ‘MacDermid Alpha Center of Excellence in Electronics Assembly and Skills Development’ was also inaugurated on the occasion. It is an automatic PCB assembly facility established at the Central Electronics Center of IIT Madras, with the support of Cookson India’s (MacDermid Alpha) CSR activity. It aims to train about 1,000 engineers and diploma holders per year. Apprenticeship is a part of this program.
“The three broad trends that are shaping the future are clear and visible and India sits at the intersection of all these three trends – Increasing rapid technology digitization of the world around, and second, the need increasingly for countries and enterprises to have a network or coalition of trusted sources of technology, safe and trusted partners in technology solution, devices and products and as a corollary, having safe and resilient supply and value chains for technology. The third trend is having more and more digital talent that is in demand all around the world. Interestingly, we have an unprecedented opportunity as India, as young Indians and entrepreneurs, as researchers and technologists to capitalize like no other nation in the world and more forward and achieve that Trillion dollar economy goal the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has set for the nation,” said Chandrasekhar.
He added, “It is certainly clear today in 2023 that we are living in extremely interesting times. The acceleration of digitization of the world, the acceleration of technology, enablement of enterprises, consumers, Governments and nations all around the world is at an unprecedented blistering pace. There are signs of it all over the world – the demand for talent, technology, trusted suppliers of technology, product and devices.”
The V&PS – CDISHA Research Center will also have an AI-ML Accelerator. Traditional computers cannot handle emerging AI applications as their architectures are more tuned towards general purpose computation. Running intelligence applications on the edge becomes even more challenging due to power constraints. The need of the hour is to have a new class of computers that meets the latency and power requirements of AI applications.
Towards meeting this requirement, IIT Madras Researchers are building a computer using Shakti Microprocessor. This computer has a novel component called ShaktiMAAN (MAAN for “Multiply and Accumulate Network”), which is specialized for handling deep learning inference. ShaktiMAAN works with the Shakti processor to accelerate Deep Learning workloads manifolds.
“A big thanks to Mr. Pratap Subrahmanyam for having sponsored this Center, which has come at a very right time when India was to announce the Semiconductor Mission and when we were moving towards establishing fabrication facility. What we are looking at from this Center is three important verticals. One is that we are designing hardware that needs to be secure, have certain basic ingredients that will make it execute certain applications that demand intelligence,” Prof. Kamakoti said. “We need a platform where we learn by experimentation rather than learn from the books, specifically, in the area of computer architecture. With the growth that we are seeing, any book written now will become outdated in a matter of 8 to 10 months. The best way of educating computer architecture organization operating systems is to basically do by experimentation. We wanted to create a platform wherein we can perform this. This center has helped in achieving this goal.”
The key activities of the research center include RISC-V Architecture Compatibility Test (ACT) for RISC-V International, secure Shakti variant, AI-ML accelerator (ShaktiMAAN), Shakti IP developments, out-of-order I-class variant of Shakti processor, RISC-V verification activities, and the DIR-V Initiative (startups incubated from V & PS – CDISHA lab).
“I would really like IIT Madras to look at what does it take to actually make hardware development of various gadgets. Say tomorrow, we are sending a computer out into to space or building a data center in space, why should that be built with CPUs that we are familiar with today. Why would not we want it to a CPU of a different architecture entirely… Do we have the capability to make it happen? That is a 15-20 year journey almost to build the ecosystem. That is the reason I want to help in this venture,” said Pratap Subrahmanyam, an Alumnus of the 1985 Batch (BT/ME) and a Fellow at VMware Inc. “Dr. V. Kamakoti has already outlined a bunch of accomplishments from this lab and there is a lot more waiting to happen. The traditional structure of CPU today where there is a cache, a Register file and a bunch of buses and memory all attached to it is not gonna be lasting very long. We are going to have desegregation of resources. The CPU ten years from now is not going to be look at all like what is there today. The future is for us to make here.”
“The Ministry has laid out a five-year vision document, which calls for quadrupling the electronics manufacturing base and capability in India over the next five years. Our vision and partnership with IIT Madras is to really help build this entire electronics manufacturing ecosystem on campus, to help build the workforce, help productize innovations and stimulate interdisciplinary research…Establishment of this center is the first step in that direction and it is critical that we build a strong university-industry-Government partnership to achieve this vision,” said Dr. Ravi M. Bhatkal, Managing Director, India Element Solutions Inc.
“IIT Madras is on a growth trajectory that is unparalleled in today’s India. For the last decade or so, the rise of IIT Madras in every sphere of academic activity, from working with industry, alumni, creating student outcomes that were before now unseen in India, faculty research going up a notch, to creating a broader societal impact, we have demonstrated in the last decade or so, why we deserve to be the No: 1 ranked Institute in the country. This position of being ranked highly comes with a great deal of responsibility to showcase how any other academic institution in India should be able to chart out a path of its own but still be impact full for the country,” said Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras.
The MacDermid Alpha Center of Excellence in Electronics Assembly and Skills Development is being established with the state-of-the-art facilities for surface mount technology line, including a solder paste printer, a solder paste inspection system, a component pick and place machine, a reflow oven, and an automatic optical inspection system.