Private Sector

BEL unveils successor to ‘Simputer,’ mainly for use in military

Six months after announcing that it was working on a successor to its 1990s “Simputer,” Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) unveiled its new tablet at Defexpo 2020 in Lucknow. The exhibition concluded on Sunday.

According to BEL, the new 850-gram, 10.1-inch tablet, which does not yet have a name, is built around a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.2 GHz processor, a quad-core Mali 450 graphics processor, full HD support and a cryptoprocessor. At the heart of the new system is BEL’s home-grown System on Chip (SoC), an integrated circuit commonly found on smartphones.

However, unlike the 1990s’ Simputer, which was described as a computer for the masses, especially for those in the agrarian sector, the new tablet’s use appears intended primarily for the military. A BEL officer said the device could also have non-defence applications.

BEL’s chief of Research and Development, Mahesh V, said, “BEL had earlier developed a tablet which was used to conduct the socio-economic survey (caste census). The new SoC-based Tablet PC is planned to be used in projects of strategic importance,” he said.

The device, which was launched in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, will use the older Android Marshmallow operating system. BEL sources said Wipro was the integrator for the device, followed by a second city-based technology-company serving as the consultant.

The company’s SoC is fabricated at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Facility with a 40 nano-meter LP process technology. The company said that it will also use the chip on a range of secure phones, electronic voting machines, software-defined radios, and thermal cameras.

M V Gowtama, BEL’s chief managing director, had earlier told DH that the company’s work on the Simputer and a successive second-generation low-cost tablet in 2012-2013 had given it the requisite know-how to develop its indigenous SoC.

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