India’s IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw inaugurated Qualcomm’s new semiconductor design centre in Chennai.
| Photo Credit: John Xavier

Qualcomm on Thursday opened a new design centre in Chennai, which will focus on wireless connectivity solutions and Wi-Fi technologies. The Chennai Design Centre will entail an investment of ₹177.27 crores, and it is expected to generate upto 1,600 tech jobs. This centre will support the San Deigo, California-based company’s global efforts in research and develop of 5G cellular technology.

Inaugurating the Chennai facility, India’s IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that Qualcomm “has played a key role in accelerating India’s digital journey” and that the “new design centre marks a key milestone for not just the company but also the impact it is set to bring forth with employee opportunities that will further nurture our tech talent.”

Commenting on Qualcomm’s expanding presence in India, CEO Cristiano Amon said, “The Chennai team has been instrumental for the [company’s] leadership position in wireless communications, especially in Wi-Fi and broadband technologies, and we’re very happy to continue to work here.”

Mr. Amon noted that outside of the company’s headquarters in San Deigo, India has its largest R&D site, and that “Chennai has been a story of growth.”

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On how Qualcomm sees original device manufacturers (ODMs) making their own chipsets, Mr. Amon said that the company’s business has grown beyond mobile devices and that it is designing chipsets across the entire ecosystem. And the newest part of its business is focused on automotive manufactures where Qualcomm is partnering with brands to build the digital cockpit.

“If you believe this cellular technology is important, and the innovation roadmap for cellular continues, then there is always going to be room for Qualcomm,” Mr. Amon told The Hindu.

On his views on how India compares against China viz-a-viz chip industry, Mr. Amon said, “We expect technology to have a role to play worldwide. But the subtle thing is really what we can do in India. India’s scale offers an incredible opportunity to leapfrog with technology across many industries. And I think that is part of our vision in what we’re doing in this innovation centre in Chennai.”

Speaking exclusively to The Hindu about the design centre, and the future potential of WiFi technology, Rahul Patel, Group General Manager, Connectivity, Broadband & Networking at Qualcomm said, The new facility is largely a result of the existing one being outgrown. So, the new one will put best-in-class tools and labs to use to develop next generation Wi-Fi technology.

“Not many people realize that Wifi is being used beyond connecting to a PC, laptop, or a phone. So, the density of the usage of the spectrum that we have to work with is getting very complicated. And because everybody is contending for the same spectrum usage, the technology has to evolve to ensure user experience doesn’t take a back seat as more and more devices come into play.”

To cope with this demand, the WiFi standards are evolving to make sure download speeds and latency are not affected as result of the device density.

So, it is not only about speeds and feeds; it’s also about capacity. And this is where the next generation of WiFi is being developed, Patel said.

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