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Wearable devices chip manufacturer Ineda Systems raises $17M


inedaHyderabad-based Ineda Systems that is developing low-power chips for wearable devices has received $17 million in funding from investment arms of Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm, reports The Wall Street Journal. Techcircle however, claims that the round was led by Walden International, which had also invested in the company back in October last year.

The company will use the funding to continue its development of low power chips and software for wearable devices. The company already lists three chips that are made for this market under the brand Dhanush. Ineda calls these chips Wearable Processing Units (WPU) but that is just a marketing jargon.

Ineda’s chips are based on the architecture developed MIPS, that was acquired by Imagination Technologies in 2012. It is worth noting that Imagination has also invested in Ineda in the past and its President Krishna Yarlagadda is a board member in the Indian company.

MIPS vs ARM: MIPS architecture and instruction set competes with those made by ARM and Ineda claims that its solution built on top of MIPS has very low power consumption. Chinese company Ingenic Semiconductor had recently showcased a similar chip built for wearable devices called Newton, based on MIPS architecture. Ingenic claimed that watches that use this chip can last for 30 hours on a single charge, Ineda however claims that devices using its WPU can last for up to 30 days on a single charge!

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If chips such as Dhanush built on top of MIPS architecture can indeed get the sort of power efficiencies Ineda claims, it will be bad news for Intel that has been struggling with falling PC sales and a mobile industry that prefers ARM.

It is worth noting that at one point ARM (the architecture used in almost all smartphones as of now) and MIPS were competing for embedded systems marketshare, with ARM was gunning for the low power segment and MIPS targeting the high-end as it supported 64-bit processing.

MIPS architecture does not support Google new operating system for for watches — Android Wear — as yet. However, Imagination Technologies is in the list of CPU IP suppliers to Google ecosystem so the new wearable OS will receive support sooner or later.

Walden’s interest in semiconductor companies in India

Walden International had reportedly made a pitch to set up a fund for startups in the semi-conductor sector here in partnership with the Indian government, but it has been stuck with the planning commission, that is not in favour of the plan. It had suggested that it would invest $5-10 million in the country by funding electronics chip design start-ups.

It looks like the company has gone ahead and started investing in Indian companies despite the cold shoulder from the Indian government, which meanwhile is looking at a proposal for creating a $1 billion fund to encourage manufacturing of telecom equipment and devices in the country.

The investment in Ineda by chip majors and firms like Walden shows that Indian government is stuck in loop of playing catch up. May be it should encourage companies that are working on products that could define the evolution of technology than meeting the needs to today five years down the line.