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Embedded software unit set up for Toshiba products

February 21, 2003 19:57 IST

Toshiba Corporation, the $40-billion global Japanese electronic major, has collaborated with the Singapore-based Future Technology Design Technology to set up an embedded software development center in Bangalore for developing solutions that can be used for its next generation digital consumer electronic products.

The dedicated center, christened SoCrates Software India Ltd, has been established with an initial investment of $4.5 million by FTD's holding company in which Toshiba has invested Singapore dollar 5 million.

SoCrates will primarily execute projects for the $6-billion Toshiba Semiconductor Company, a subsidiary of the parent company, in the areas of wireless technologies, mixed signals, and analog based signals.

"We will basically develop software components that will be used for integration, system-on-chip solutions for the semiconductor industry, including Toshiba, which is focused on digital consumer and personal communications products," declared Toshiba Corporation general manager Kazutoshi Eguchi in Bangalore on Friday.

SoCrates will also focus on developing Intellectual Property-based technology that can be reusable in consumer products such as DVD players and digital television sets by reducing their production life cycles.

"As system-on-chip solutions evolve, they will be requiring greater complexity for networked consumer devices. SoCrates will design the software for the next-generation IC solutions that can be used in advanced consumer products ranging from digital cameras, plasma TVs, information appliances, and digital camcorders," Eguchi stated.

With 120 software engineers already on its rolls, SoCrates will work on five projects during the current year for generating an export revenue of $5 million for the ensuing fiscal year 2003-04.

Toshiba has decided to fund FTD's venture in Bangalore for tapping the software talent pool of engineers in the city, where several multinational firms in embedded technologies have set shop.

According to Future Technology Design CEO P Bala, the Indian joint venture will work on developing audio-video and speech codes, real time operating systems, and device drivers.

"Our other key projects include development of middleware for digital video broadcast framework and digital video disc framework in the shortest possible time to reduce end-product launch by Toshiba in the global market," Bala claimed.

SoCrates president Deepak Gupta said the Indian subsidiary of the Singapore company would be ramping its staff strength to 300 by the end of 2004.

The 52,000sq.ft state-of-the-art facility was inaugurated by Hang Chang Chief, deputy chairman of A*Star Agency for science, technology and research, Singapore government.

Though the semiconductor industry has been reeling under falling demand in the wake of global tech slowdown, Eguchi claimed that the industry was likely to grow by 10 per cent annually in the coming years.

"In spite of global economic recession, digital world is growing with more complex and integrated products like digital TVs, car navigation and digital hand-held gadgets," Eguchi affirmed.

Fakir Chand in Bangalore