Neuromorphic, RISC-V, and quantum chips offer innovative approaches: Aditya Joshi, Opalforce

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Neuromorphic, RISC-V, and quantum chips offer innovative approaches: Aditya Joshi, Opalforce

Since its establishment in 2007 in the US and subsequent expansion into India in 2009, Opalforce has embarked on an incredible journey in the semiconductor and technology domains. It has achieved significant milestones and become a trusted partner for numerous clients worldwide.

Aditya Joshi, CEO, OpalForce, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview.

DQ: Tell us about OpalForce and the services that your company offers?

Aditya Joshi: We are a cutting-edge semiconductor, technology, and talent solutions firm headquartered in the US, with operations in India, Canada, and Singapore. Established in 2007 by seasoned industry pioneers with a track record of successful high-growth ventures since 2002, OpalForce specializes in swift and efficient AI-driven technology, talent, and process solutions for the semiconductor, engineering, and automotive sectors across diverse regions.

Our vibrant team comprises dedicated solution experts, adept sales professionals, and subject matter authorities in domains like artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, semiconductors, and engineering. Our mission is to reshape conventional engagement and delivery models using digital technology. With a talent pool of 150,000+ skilled individuals spanning various technology and semiconductor engineering disciplines, our expertise is wide-ranging and diverse.

DQ: Can you provide your thoughts on the present situation of talent shortage in the semiconductor industry?

Aditya Joshi: The semiconductor industry is grappling with a significant talent shortage, which has far-reaching implications for its growth and innovation. Several key factors contribute to this challenging situation:

Rapid technological advancements: The continuous evolution of semiconductor technology demands a highly skilled workforce. As new process nodes, architectures, and applications emerge, the need for specialized expertise in areas like chip design, fabrication, packaging, and system integration becomes paramount. The shortage of professionals with up-to-date skills in these areas hampers industry progress.

Emerging technologies: The rise of AI, IoT, 5G, and other cutting-edge technologies has created new demands for semiconductor components tailored to these applications. Engineers with expertise in these emerging fields are in high demand, but the supply of such professionals has not kept pace.

Educational challenges: Bridging the gap between industry requirements and academic curricula remains a challenge. Universities and educational institutions often struggle to update their programs quickly enough to equip graduates with the skills needed in a rapidly changing industry. As a result, there’s a mismatch between the skills of fresh graduates and the expectations of semiconductor companies.

Global competition: The semiconductor industry is a global endeavor, with companies vying for top talent on an international scale. Regions with strong semiconductor ecosystems tend to attract professionals, leaving other areas with fewer skilled individuals available for hire. This competition further exacerbates the talent shortage.

Retirement and experience gap: The impending retirement of seasoned professionals who possess invaluable industry experience creates a knowledge vacuum. Transferring decades of expertise to the next generation is not a straightforward task and poses challenges in maintaining the continuity of innovation.

Interdisciplinary nature: Modern semiconductor projects often require collaboration across various disciplines, including electronics, materials science, physics, and software development. Finding professionals who can bridge these disciplines and work effectively in interdisciplinary teams is a hurdle.

Work-life balance and industry image: The reputation of the semiconductor industry for demanding work schedules and high-pressure environments may deter potential talent. Attracting and retaining professionals might require industry-wide efforts to promote work-life balance and a positive image.

Diversity and inclusion: Increasing diversity within the semiconductor workforce is a priority, as diverse teams tend to yield more creative and innovative solutions. Addressing under-representation and fostering an inclusive environment can contribute to attracting a broader range of talent.

DQ: What were the company’s goals and objectives when it was founded?

Aditya Joshi: Since our establishment in 2007 in the US and subsequent expansion into India in 2009, Opalforce has embarked on an incredible journey in the semiconductor and technology domains. Over the years, we have achieved significant milestones and have become a trusted partner for numerous clients worldwide.

Our unwavering commitment to excellence has enabled us to work with over 100+ clients, delivering tailored technology and talent solutions by deploying skilled technology, and semiconductor professionals across diverse projects. Through our innovative Talent as a Service, Remote Teams and Hire Train and Deploy model, we have effectively bridged the talent shortage gap, ensuring that our clients have access to the best industry expertise and resources.

DQ: How is Opalforce contributing in providing the right talent to the companies?

Aditya Joshi: Opalforce offers comprehensive Talent Solutions to meet evolving business needs in today’s competitive landscape. We specialize in bridging talent gaps in semiconductor industry through exceptional manufacturing of skilled professionals.

We are introducing OpalSemi Academy, our revolutionary semiconductor training institute. Empowered by seasoned experts with 35+ years of industry experience, OpalSemi Academy aims to revolutionize training and set new benchmarks. OpalSemi Academy is committed to proficiency and innovation.

Our specialized courses cover physical design, design verification, analog layout, and embedded systems. With strategic hubs in Pune and Bangalore, we are ready to meet the demand for skilled semiconductor professionals in these tech hubs.

Understanding the ever-changing semiconductor landscape, OpalSemi Academy bridges the gap between industry needs and budding engineers’ skills. Our tailored training programs, crafted by industry luminaries, provide cutting-edge insights and hands-on skills crucial for the dynamic semiconductor domain.

Through OpalSemi Academy, we nurture visionary technocrats ready to reshape the semiconductor landscape. Fostering innovation, excellence, and practical prowess, we equip engineers to elevate the semiconductor realm.

Our tech and talent solutions merge cutting-edge technology, AI, and skilled workforce to drive progress. Tailored solutions for chip design, manufacturing, and industry challenges empower semiconductor companies for optimal performance.

DQ: What steps has Opalforce taken to create and maintain a talent pipeline that is in line with the ever-evolving needs of the sector?

Aditya Joshi: To cultivate and sustain a talent pipeline aligned with the semiconductor industry’s evolving demands, Opalforce has taken these steps:

Educational collaborations: Partner with institutions for relevant curricula and offer internships to introduce students to practical aspects.

Enhance OpalSemi Academy: Expand course offerings to cover emerging technologies and maintain an updated curriculum.

Targeted recruitment: Attend events, leverage online platforms, and employ diverse hiring strategies.

Mentorship programs: Establish mentorships and apprenticeships for hands-on learning and guidance.

Industry engagement: Stay active in forums, associations, and tech communities to remain updated and attract candidates.

Collaborative research: Partner with other entities for projects to expose the pipeline to cutting-edge research.

Flexible work options: Offer remote work and flexible arrangements to access a wider talent pool.

Employee referrals: Initiate referral programs to leverage current employees’ networks.

Skill assessment: Implement effective skill assessments in the recruitment process.

By combining these strategies, Opalforce has established a resilient talent pipeline aligned with the semiconductor industry dynamism.

DQ: What are your growth plans and the brands you are targeting in the upcoming months?

Aditya Joshi: Our forward trajectory involves diversifying our clientele to encompass prominent international players in the semiconductor, chip design, and technology services sectors. In the months ahead, our expansion aims to establish a robust presence in key regions.

By the close of 2023, our sights are set on extending our operations into Singapore and Taiwan within the Asia Pacific realm. Additionally, we are also earmarking expansion into Phoenix, Arizona, United States.

Central to our growth strategy is engaging with prime industry brands. Our focus remains directed toward securing collaborations with the global competence hubs of major semiconductor and chip design corporations in India. This strategic approach propels Opalforce into a promising phase of growth and collaboration as we continue to carve our niche in the industry landscape.

DQ: What technologies is OpalForce using to offer its services?

Aditya Joshi: We leverage below-mentioned chip design technologies, which encompass various methods, tools, and approaches for integrated circuit (IC) creation.

These include: electronic design automation (EDA) software for chip design and verification, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), with customizable chips for prototyping, application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), for custom-designed chips for specific applications, system-on-chip (SoC) design with integration of components on a single chip, advanced process nodes, such as smaller process nodes for better performance, analog and mixed-signal design, combining analog components with digital logic, verification and validation, by testing for chip functions, power and thermal management techniques for power optimization and heat management, 3D integration by stacking chip layers for density and performance, emerging memory technologies, such as innovative memory options like ReRAM, PCM, and STT-MRAM, quantum computing and neuromorphic design, with unconventional computing models, and security and hardware trust with hardware-level security features.

These technologies drive electronics, from smartphones to AI hardware, and continue to advance for better performance and efficiency.

DQ: According to you, what are the semiconductor trends in today’s market?

Aditya Joshi: The semiconductor industry, a dynamic and ever-evolving sector, constantly adapts to shifting market needs. Current trends influencing this field include:

Persistent chip shortage: The global chip shortage disrupts industries and supply chains, notably affecting automotive and consumer tech sectors. Supply constraints are expected to endure.

Geopolitical considerations: Mergers, acquisitions, and cross-border deals encounter delays due to geopolitical factors. Companies build fabs to secure chip production capacity, influenced by government policies.

Evolving competition: Giants like Apple and Google design ASIC chips, enhancing software-hardware integration. Google’s Tensor chip introduces AI capabilities.

New chip architectures: Shift from traditional to AI, edge, and quantum computing-friendly architectures. Neuromorphic, RISC-V, and quantum chips offer innovative approaches.

Sustainability drive: The industry seeks to reduce environmental impact and improve social responsibility. Energy efficiency, recycling, renewable sources, and diversity initiatives gain prominence.