India’s Microcontroller Trends

Article By : Partha

India’s semiconductor market share is hardly representative of its size, both in terms of geography and in its tag as being a technology design services region

India’s semiconductor market share is hardly representative of its size, both in terms of geography and in its tag as being a technology design services region. However, in the last 7-8 years the demand for semiconductor chips in the Indian market has grown fast, especially when compared to the global average.

Mobile phone manufacturers are now importing chips and components as well as doing basic printed circuit board assembly in India, instead of assembling knocked down parts of mobile phones. Semiconductor imports for mobile phone devices alone is estimated to reach US$ 10+ billion in 2020. Microcontroller chips find usage in the smartphone sensor hub. It’s a growing market when you add wearables to smart phones, since wearables use a lot more microcontroller chips. However, the complete mobile phone design and manufacturing process is still yet to happen in a big way, but manufacturing is starting to take off.

Amid the high level of design activity happening in India in terms of services, there is a severe lack of full-fledged product design and manufacturing companies in India, with the scale hardly matching any Asian electronics manufacturing economies. Due to this, the overall semiconductor market as well as microcontroller market in India is small in size, especially in terms of local design enabled market growth. The Indian microcontroller market is estimated to be around US$ 750 million to 1billion, in a local semiconductor market worth around US$ 18-20 billion in 2019.

There is a well-established automotive manufacturing base in India, and it is estimated to be 2nd biggest market for semiconductors and microcontroller chips. At present, the two-wheeler market is equally interesting and attractive when compared to the car and other vehicle markets. The electrical vehicle market in India has seen growth with a good number of successful models of electric cars, bikes and rickshaws already on road. At the design stage, a lot of activities are under progress around the electric vehicle development of heavy vehicles, cars and two wheelers. Instrument clusters is an area where a good amount of local design and manufacturing can be seen. In other areas of critical automotive electronics, there are very few local companies to compete with global OEMs.

The second-biggest market for microcontrollers used to be industrial and power electronics. Due to regular power outages both in urban and rural areas, the UPS market is to be one of the major markets for microcontrollers in the next few decades. However, in the last 7-8 years, there have been fewer power cuts which hindered growth in the UPS market. The second-biggest market in the industrial segment is process control and manufacturing automation. However, most companies are importing embedded boards instead of designing and manufacturing them locally. Electronic ID cards and supporting systems, Ticket vending machines, digital weighing scales, kiosks, public displays are also part of this market.

Both, consumer IoT and industrial IoT has emerged as the third biggest market in India. In this segment a lot of start-ups have launched IoT based electronic systems for a range of applications which were previously unthought-of, such as agriculture, smart cities and other such areas.

Defence electronics and aerospace remains a stable market for microcontrollers in India. This market has consistently grown for a very long time. The major customers here have traditionally been public sector enterprises. Recently the private sector has also been playing an active role in the Indian defence and aerospace industry. The government procures a lot of electronic systems for e-governance, which is another big market for microcontrollers.

Does any Indian company make locally designed MCU chips? The answer is both yes and no. The answer can be yes, because through an academic initiative from IIT Madras, a team of engineers have built a processor family named ‘SHAKTI’ using open source RISC-V. They have designed and fabricated the chips locally. The answer can also be no, since there is not yet a company or distributor exclusively selling chips and boards of these SHAKTI processors developed by IIT madras.

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