Faster learners, great attitude
Shashikiran | 04 Jan 2007

Siemens Semiconductor

Faster learners, great attitude

Sherwani once thought he might need 200 engineers to get the productivity his 65 engineers now accomplish. The company has had about 70 design wins, many of them at 90 nm. The ASICs power everything from consumer devices to entertainment systems for the airline industry.

Executives at Ample Communications, another Silicon Valley/India hybrid, which develops silicon for wireline communications, have also been surprised by the rapid improvement of their 50 engineers in Bangalore. “We wanted them to crawl, then walk and then run,” says Vish Akella, cofounder and CEO. “We skipped the walking stage and went directly to running. The team in India is capable of designing the next set of products with only cash help from the home office.”

The Indian team has designed three chips, one in collaboration with the Americans and two on its own. It is working on several new designs at 90 nm. “They have a lot of pride,” Akella says. “They don’t want to be second-best at anything.”
Many executives see an intangible trait. “There’s an attitude here, an extremely positive attitude,” says Albert Stritter, vice president and managing director of Infineon’s Indian facility, which employs 600 hardware and software engineers in Bangalore. “We ramped up here much faster than I expected.”

Previously as Siemens Semiconductor, the company had a small staff in India (in April 1999, Siemens’ semiconductor activities moved to Infineon Technologies, a wholly owned Siemens company). Today the Bangalore team not only works on complete designs at advanced processes but also develops design flow and libraries for company-wide use, including the 45-nm process.
Stritter says the educational system is responsible for the high level of talent. Although not known as research centers, India’s best technical universities offer an education that matches the best in the West, he says.
The best university programs are excellent, but there aren’t enough of them to produce the hardware engineers India needs.