The project was funded by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and IIT Bombay.
In an attempt to make a mark in the highly competitive segment of microprocessor manufacturing, engineers from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) have developed a new microprocessor called AJIT—the first ever microprocessor to be conceptualised, designed, developed and manufactured in India., reported Research Market. This innovation could not only reduce the country’s imports but also make India self-reliant in electronics.
AJIT marks the first time in the country’s history where the industry, academia and the government have come together. Prof. Madhav Desai and his team of about nine researchers from IIT Bombay have designed and developed the processor entirely at the institute.
In the first stage, AJIT has been manufactured in the government-owned Semiconductor Laboratory (SCL), Chandigarh, with a technology that offers the smallest building block of the size 180 nanometers. The researchers also plan to commercially manufacture the processor using more advanced techniques that provide the smallest building block of size 65 nm or 45 nm, which is the current state of the art.
The project was funded by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and IIT Bombay. Powai Labs, a Mumbai-based company, has also invested in the venture and will own, market and support the product. “I am thankful to Dr Debashish Dutta of MeitY for championing this project and to Reapan Tikoo of Powai Labs for supporting the project financially and as industry partner,” says Prof Desai acknowledging the contributions of the partner institutions.
AJIT – Packed with features
Akin to most microprocessors available today, AJIT comes with an arithmetic logic unit that can do basic arithmetic and logical operations like addition, subtraction and comparison, and a memory management unit that stores and retrieves data from memory. There is also a floating point unit designed to handle calculations with non-integer numbers efficiently. For those who would like to program the microprocessor, there is a hardware debugger unit to help them monitor and control the processor.
AJIT’s features can be compared to many of the microprocessors of its size available in today’s market. Unlike the ones used in the desktops like the Intel’s Xeon, AJIT is a medium-sized processor. It can be used inside a set-top box, as a control panel for automation systems, in a traffic light controller or even robotic systems. What’s more, the researchers expect that AJIT will cost as less as ₹100 when it is produced en-masse! AJIT can run one instruction per clock cycle and can operate at clock speeds between 70-120MHz, comparable to its competitors in the market.
The researchers have made the software tools associated with AJIT freely available to everyone. The processor is also available as a ‘softcore’, where vendors can buy a license to use the design of the microprocessor and fabricate it to use it in their system. The researchers also offer to customise the processor for specific applications.