LONDON — Indian foundry fab will be located near Indore in Madhya Pradesh. The company reports that talks are moving the project forward on all fronts including: funding, technology and customers.
Cricket Semiconductor LLC, an analog and power pure-play fab project being prepared for touch down in India, is making progress on multiple fronts and has hired a semiconductor industry veteran formerly with Globalfoundries.
Aabid Husain, who was vice president of worldwide business development and marketing at Globalfoundries Inc. based at its 200mm wafer fab campus in Singapore, has joined Cricket Semiconductor as chief marketing officer.
Cricket Semiconductor also has a definite location for its wafer fab – Pithampur Industrial Park on the outskirts of the city of Indore, the largest city in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Indore happens to be Husain's birthplace. Cricket's plan is to break ground for the wafer fab at Pithampur in 2016 and to begin producing chips for customers there in 2018.
"When I was growing up I never dreamed I would be doing this sort of project in Indore but now it makes sense," Husain told EE Times Europe. "Indore, a city of 3.2 million people, is the financial capital of Madhya Pradesh. The industrial park is well developed and it has been a special economic zone for many years, which provides benefits of tax breaks and import-export duties are waived. There are about 10 pharma companies as will as automotive companies making cars and trucks."
"However most important for a wafer fab is the provision of water and power. Madhya Pradesh is one of few states in India that can guarantee that supply." he added.
former Texas Instruments veteran
and co-founder of Cricket Semiconductor.
Lou Hutter, who with Mark Howard of Indian design house Karmic launched the Cricket Semiconductor project, added that they are already in discussions with a couple of prospective construction partners for the facility that are known for their work in the semiconductor industry. "This needs to be done right. The world will be watching," said Hutter.
But to get things "done right" requires money. "We're talking to a number of potential investors. This will be done by a mix of equity, debt and government subsidy," said Hutter. Even though the project has been described as a billion-dollar project Hutter said his focus has been on creating a fine-grained modular plan so that fab can be built in stages and the company can expand incrementally. "The emphasis has been on getting the initial barrier – the entry-price – down so that the fab can start."
Husain said that funding is not necessarily a problem for Cricket. "India is a big country. Money is not necessarily a problem in India. We have steel and many other industries. The problem with semiconductors in India is that the projects have not been investable. The project we have here is very much investable. It recognizes that in semiconductors India must walk before it can run. It addresses the local and global needs in automotive and industrial. So it will sit within an ecosystem."
Besides money any new chip manufacturer needs processes and these are difficult to develop from scratch.
Hutter said: "We are looking for products that we can ramp quickly and one of the ways of working is as an off-load foundry where we will take a customer's process and use it exclusively for that customer to make products. But we are already working with several technology partners around the world who are ready to license out processes. We are close to signing a memorandum of understanding with them to license technology."
Besides location, money and technology the most important thing for any business to possess is customers. "And that is another front on which we are making progress," said Hutter. "We have a letter of intent from one very well-known company and we are in discussion with several others."
"We are also getting a really good response from Indian government both at state and national levels. We see this as a real public-private partnership that is working through the challenges," concluded Hutter.
Article originally posted on EE Times Europe.
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