NUST Achieves Pakistan’s First Truly Indigenous Embedded Microprocessor
Islamabad: Researchers from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) have successfully completed comprehensive functional testing of the country’s first truly homegrown microprocessor, ‘NTiny-E’.
This was revealed by the Pro-Rector (Research, Innovation and Commercialization) of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Dr. Rizwan Riaz during a press conference with the Principal SEECS, Dr. Ajmal Khan and the leader of the Ntiny design and development team. , Dr. Rehan Ahmed, Monday.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Rizwan Riaz said the on-board microprocessor chip was designed by the research team from NUST School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS).
He said semiconductor chips are at the heart of all electronic devices and consumer devices that we use every day. Global semiconductor sales reached $556 billion in 2021 but Pakistan has been unable to tap into this lucrative market.
However, NUST, in line with its vision to undertake applied research and innovation, has embarked on the journey to make Pakistan self-sufficient in this critical technology. The unique aspect of the project is its entirely in-house design, as opposed to the common practice of using open source cores from other sources or foreign collaborations.
This makes NTiny-E a truly native product that gives the design team full leverage and control over all aspects of the chip. NUST selected the largest and most important commercial foundry in the world, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd.
(TSMC) for manufacturing chips using the industry standard 65nm process node. This demonstrates the researchers’ ability to design chips that meet international industrial design and manufacturing standards. The event marks a milestone in the national semiconductor landscape and sets Pakistan on the path to realizing Quaid’s vision of self-reliance. Dr. Rizwan Riaz said that the NUST team did not limit itself to the design of the chip itself, but also developed a complete ecosystem required for chip testing and its incorporation into final products.
The circuit board for chip testing and prototyping of end systems was also developed locally along with associated software and development tools. This will help researchers and industrial product developers to design and manufacture products based on NTiny-E.
NTiny’s target market is embedded systems, IoT devices, consumer electronics, etc. The indigenous nature of the product alleviates concerns about cybersecurity and technology denial.
NUST also develops skilled and market-ready semiconductor human resources to meet critical shortages through its undergraduate and postgraduate programs.
In the context of the global shortage of semiconductor chips and export restrictions, the contributions of NUST researchers will help reduce dependence on foreign imports in the long term, he said.