Researchers at IIT Bombay develop first ever microprocessor

Published: May 08, 2019, 19:39 IST | Pallavi Smart

A much integral part of any electronic item had to always be imported

Researchers at IIT Bombay develop first ever microprocessor
IIT Bombay/ file pic

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay develop the country's first indigenously designed and fabricated microprocessor - AJIT. A much integral part of any electronic item had to always be imported. With the development of AJIT - India's electronics sector to see a major change as it is expected to make the country self-reliant in electronics.

As per information provided by the Institute PRO, 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 Rs.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.

A microprocessor which is considered brain of any electronics device; is an integrated circuit (IC) that contains a few millions of transistors (semiconductor-based electronic devices) fused on a semiconductor chip. It is just a few millimetres in dimension and is used in almost every electronic device—from the microwave and washing machine in homes to advanced supercomputers of a space station. However, developing and manufacturing a microprocessor is not easy—it is expensive, risky and needs much skill. Hence, only a handful of companies across the world have been able to manufacture and sell microprocessors successfully.

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. 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.

“We have been working on this processor design for more than two years now. The design has been tested on programmable semiconductor chips before we began our effort towards fabricating the processor,” said Prof. Desai. The researchers also offer to customise the processor for specific applications. “The design of the processor is modular, and at some extra cost, vendors can get a processor design with a feature set suitable for the system they are designing”, said Prof. Desai.

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