LONDON – Specialist foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Migdal Haemek, Israel), which trades as TowerJazz, has said it has been shortlisted by the Indian government to build and run a 300-mm wafer fab in the country.
However, any commercial impact from such a move, if it should happen, is a long way off, Tower said. Tower's CEO, Russell Ellwanger, said he expects it will take three years from ground breaking for the fab to the shipping of commercial, qualified silicon. Ultimately the factory is expected to have a manufacturing capacity of 30,000 wafer starts per month, he added.
Tower had previously announced that it was part of consortium headed up by cement maker Jaypee Associates and that included IBM that was bidding to be allowed to build fab. The fab would be predominantly owned by Jaypee while IBM would provide of baseline 90-nm, 65-nm and 45-nm manufacturing process technologies and Tower would be contracted build and to operate the wafer fab and would be able to retain a portion of the fab's output for its own customers.
"We received a positive feedback from the Indian government within the past weeks that our consortium is now going to the next step in the approval process," said Ellwanger, during an analysts on a conference call held to discuss Tower's 2Q12 financial results. "We expect to receive a decision before year's end but again can give no guarantee to timing or if our consortium will ultimately win the selection," he added.
Ellwanger said the Indian government had not formally announced how many bids are involved in the next round, or how many have been screened out. In previous announcements the government has said a decision would be reached by the end of 2012.
"The factory from ground breaking would take three years to the point of having qualified silicon earnings through the factory," said Ellwanger. "So it’s three years to get started. We would build the factory contracting to build it. We would also operate the factory contracting to operate it. All agreements are with Jaypee," he added.
I do not think India needs a fab. What they need is to focus on the design side and the IP. That makes sense to me.It is very expensive to operate fabs and the Chinese with their purse seems to be well positioned to lead in that area.
Jaypee is the money and the Indian company with a strategic interest (a bit like Formosa Plastic in Taiwan).
Tower's contract to build and operate the fab would be with Jaypee, if the bid is successful.
With a poor infrastructure, lack of skilled manpower and the cream of engineering manpower with a lack of interest in anything other than software and financial services, India has a mountain to climb. If a cement manufacturer is able to see a future with all the odds stacked against such a venture, I can only smell a scam of humongous proportions!
I do agree about the poor infrastructure, but when it comes to lack of skilled manpower, I disagree with you. If you look around you will find most of the backend operations for semiconductor cos are outsourced to India. You have atleast 80-90 semiconductor start ups with projects for the Top notch Semicons. This is just a start. Try not be a pessimist without knowing the actual picture around you.
I am sorry if I touched a raw nerve somewhere. By backend do you mean A&T? If so I cannot list more than SPEL Semi in Chennai which is doing some volume packaging. So there are no 80-90 units in India. And if you meant design services as backend, IC design engineer do not qualify as a process engg in a wafer fab. I say that because I worked for 17 years as a fab process engg. I commented with a full and thorough understanding!
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