In-house chipset could give Saankhya Labs the edge in 5G network race
Bengaluru-based Saankhya Labs is betting on taking a leadership position in the crowded 5G network space riding on its in-house semiconductor solutions.
While there are a number of Indian companies that have entered the race for cornering a share of the 5G network market using open radio access solutions, Parag Naik, Co-Founder and CEO of Saankhya Labs believes that the indigenously developed chipset could give it an edge over others.
Saankhya’s foray into the 5G market is a move that was decades in the making. “In fact, our current 5G networks solutions are based on Software Defined Tech, that predates 5G by almost a decade,” said Naik in an exclusive interaction with BusinessLine. In a span of a decade, Saankhya has invested $40 million in technologies that have ultimately led to their 5G capabilities.
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With 5G technology commencing to take-off in India, the hype is real, and more and more players are entering the fray. Naik believes that the next four to five years will be the key differentiator, where “we will know which Indian companies have the engineering prowess, product differentiation capabilities and operation abilities to stand out and survive”. For now, the secret sauce for Saankhya, which claims to be in advanced stages of product development, is the fact that it is the sole Indian company that builds its own end-to-end silicon systems.
What Saankhya Labs does
Saankhya Labs develops Software Defined Radio (SDR) System on Chips (SoC). These are Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chips and can be programmed to work for a wide variety of wireless communication standards via software change. All products and solutions developed by Saankhya Labs are powered by SDR chipsets, which are versatile with a wide variety of applications. For 5G network solutions, this includes ORAN-based 5G Radio Units and open DU solutions for Open-RAN networks. Other applications are in mobile transmission, satcom technologies etc. Since, at the moment Saankhya does not manufacture at such a large scale that will bring the costs down, manufacturing of the actual chipsets is outsourced to conglomerates such as Samsung in Taiwan and South Korea.
“A large number of O-RAN players are dependent on external silicon,” Naik said adding that “the disadvantage here is these companies will not have control and will be at the mercy of other players for price and wait times. Designing our own chipsets can allow us to incorporate design capabilities to reduce power, save costs, etc that other players can’t do”
Naik agreed that a major threat of Indian players in the 5G space are likely to be international companies that have better supply chain management capabilities to command a better market presence. However, he believes that Indian design capabilities could be a saving grace for Indian vendors to enter the 5G solutions space. “What Saankhya has done is position itself between expensive incumbents such as Nokia, Ericsson and new Chinese manufacturing upstarts that are set to provide cheap solutions. Our selling point is that we provide high quality differentiated products at a reasonably low price,” said Naik.