NUST researchers successfully test Pakistan’s first locally-designed microprocessor

In a commendable development, researchers at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) have successfully completed comprehensive functional testing of “NTiny-E”, the country’s first truly homegrown microprocessor.

This was revealed by NUST Pro-Rector (Research, Innovation and Commercialization) Dr Rizwan Riaz during a press conference on Monday. He was accompanied by SEECS principal, Dr. Ajmal Khan, and NTiny design and development team leader, Dr. Rehan Ahmed.

This is a remarkable achievement because, as a country, Pakistan has so far failed to take full advantage of the ever-present need for semiconductor technology across the globe. Global Semiconductor Sales was $595 billion in 2021and the ability to design microprocessors locally could be the first step toward a slice of that pie.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Rizwan Riaz pointed out that 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.

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 via 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 chip manufacturing, using the industry standard 65 nm process node.

This demonstrates the researchers’ ability to design chips that meet international industrial design and manufacturing standards.

Dr. Rizwan Riaz pointed out 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 development will allow researchers and industrial product developers to design and manufacture products based on NTiny-E. Some interesting applications of this technology include embedded systems, IoT devices, and consumer electronics.

Additionally, the indigenous nature of the product mitigates concerns related to cybersecurity and technology denial.

NUST also develops skilled and market-ready semiconductor human resources to meet critical shortages through its undergraduate and postgraduate programs.

It should be noted that in the current global shortage of semiconductor chips, the ability to design such technology in-house cannot be underestimated. NTiny-E is an important step towards this kind of technological autonomy.

Comments are closed.