There is no need for a fab in India. Many governments believe that if they have a fab it suddenly transforms thier country into a "high-tech" powerhouse. This is really not the reality. What is always missed in the discussion of a fab is that after you come up with the billion or so dollars (for a lagging-edge fab), you are not finished. Every couple of years at least, you need to come up with some more money, the money train really never stops.
So, envision a non-leading edge foundry fab in India. Want to see what it will look like? Visit Silterra in Malaysia and 1st Silicon in Malaysia before it was acquired by X-Fab. These companies typically sell or sold about $200 million dollars of ICs per year. The government of Malaysia was "all in" at the start and couldn't wait to sell its share in these fabs after a few years of stagnation.
Yes, India may actually eventually put up a non-leading edge foundry fab. It really won't change anything and certainly won't provide some big "technology boost" for the country it is looking for. Once again, examine what a local fab or two has done for Russia or Brazil on the world stage of semiconductor production. Not much you say, my point exactly!
Let me start off by saying that the new EE Times format is utterly illogical and an unmitigated disaster - both functionally and aesthetically. It goes against the native American wisdom of " if it ain't broke don't fix it " ! But then EE Times is no longer owned or managed by US residents.
Now to the subject at hand.
The reason semiconductor manufacturing has not taken off in India ( in spite of starting way back in 1983 at the same time as in Taiwan ) is because there is very little understanding there of its importance - be it among the Govt. scientists & bureaucrats in Delhi or even among the software / chip design types of Bangalore who have dominated the rather inappropriately named Indian Semiconductor Association & through their Ignorance of Semiconductor Physics have skewed its goals & misled it.
For at least a decade these naive people have displayed the totally unrealistic expectation of jumping on the fast moving train of the latest Logic Fab node pulled by Moore's Law and nothing has come out of it. They ought to learn from China, even Taiwan or So. Korea & now Vietnam ( Intel looked at India for its latest A&T plant and then went to Saigon ! ).
Instead of over-estimating their capabilities, India ought to start with in - country assembly of Consumer Electronics ( mostly imported from China now ), gradually move up the Food Chain ( PCBs, chemicals, chip packaging, test,.. ) to low - end Semiconductors e,g. PV cells, LEDs, RF IDs, MEMS, Power Electronics, Mixed Signal, LCD panels and so on, and give up on this simple-minded / insane desire to start with Processors.
In the meantime the Govt needs to fund for at least 5 years at least 3 competing Centers for Semiconductor R&D ( would cost $ 2 to 3 billion but small compared to the import bill for Electronics ). The charter for these Centers should be to develop in depth world - class expertise ( at least 500 Scientists & Engr.s, a third of who should have PhDs ) & pilot scale infrastructure in all the materials, tools, testing, design etc. leading to a smooth transition to late node Fabs and thus avoid loss / stagnation when a Commercial Fab is built eventually
But then India has never disappointed in displaying the worst aspects of popular democracy & crony capitalism combined with hilarious chest - thumping ( post Y2K ) !
Am sure it would be great to have a fab or for that matter two -with different geometries. But the whole Indian political arena is very tricky - with the elections coming up next year, no one can really predict whom/which party the ruiling coalition favors and what is really happening behind the scenes. Generally, no one wants to take a call on this - several lobbies might be at work in New Delhi.. it cannot be a decision based on pure merit or feasiblity... too many unseen strings would be attached. Let see which is the strongest one. Like it is said better late than never and if it happens, it could be good for India, despite all the naysayers .
When something as big as this is debated, inevitably, it involves power struggle among stakeholderrs. To protect interests of some, discussions often end up with not a real debate, but they offer a means to smoke out who is on whose side. That's a shame but that happens all the time.
That said, I do see the point of the two diverging arguments here.
On one hand, as one of the readers pointed out in this forum, who is to sayIndia shouldn't have a fab? Seriusly, why shouldn't they?
Peter Clarke, my colleague, also pointed out that this is what people said to Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China. And look where we are now.
On the other hand, there is this huge reality. India's lack of interest is a big one. But again, a big project like this might bring order to the chaotic infrastructure.
The main argument put forward two years ago in favor of chip manufacture in India was that India needed to be able to do more to satisfy demand for consumer electronics goods internally.
If you forecast how many smartphones, tablets, TVs and other goods India will be buying by the end of this decade it was clear that it was unaffordable unless India was also earning foreign exchange by exporting consumer electronics to China and elsewhere.
And while India could assemble boxes and export those it would be much better value creation to be making the silicon and designing the boxes as well as constructing them.
Now clearly one or two fabs will not got India there, but the argument is that you have to start somewhere. You have to aim to create wealth and export it for money.
And for those that say it is already a lost game. Well that is what people said to South Korea in the 1970s to Taiwan in the 1980s and to China in the 1990s.
It is better to be late than never. Why India should not have a fab ? Every one is aware that most of the Semiconductor chip designs are from India. Some of us may not be aware that designs for semiconductor process equipment's modules are being designed in India. Experienced & Intellectural manpower availability will not be an issue. Yes, we all accept the fact that the discussion for setting up of fab in India is going on for more than couple of decades. But, now with the Government's Semiconductor Policy being in place, the infrastructures that are required like Land , Electricity, Water, etc will be provided at subsidised rates. The Roads / connectivity in and around the Bangalore International Airport are being developed and will be completed very soon. There will also be relaxation in custom duties for bringing in New Process Equipments and all other materials required for the manufacturing process. Whether it is 45 / 90 nm it depends on the final device / volume that is to be produced. The delay again may be due to the investors trying to bring in obsolete / old manufacturing line of equipments which are not as per the guide lines set by Government. Sufia, keep posting !
Interestingly, there are two schools of thought here. There was this group, one of them being led by a leading EDA company which felt that there was no need for a India fab - if India could concentrate on its design work, it could go a long way. That was the idealist/no-nonsense kind of group.
But there was this other group which was pitching for a fab and since everyone said it was in "national interest", they had no choice but to toe the line and say putting up the fab was a a great idea. Since ISA was part of this second group and most of the semicon design companies are members of ISA, there was a picture projected that ALL semicon design are for the fab. Nobody wants to stand out and oppose it, even the CEO of the aforementioned EDA company.
No doubt the market is huge and sometimes when you think about it, taking the China angle ( where almost all the Indian telecom equipment comes from China), also appealed to the patriotic streak in Indians. Why depend on Chine/or any single country for something so crucial to Indian interests?
Rumours are also spiralling that India is going to biuld its own microprocessor and that has been going for several years. Maybe that too would happen.
Lets wait and watch. Just yesterday there was a report that the Telecom Commission has approved the enhancement of the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in the telecom sector from 74 per cent to 100 per cent. We didnt think it would happen but it has.
Who knows?Tthe fab would come up too.. this is incredible India!
I am thinking the same thing, Why would India want to shell out big bucks to build a fab in India? Their infrastructures are horrible and they are not a country known for making tangible goods. Electricity/water/high purity chemicals etc. are severely lacking. Building/operating a modern fab there would be very tough and I highly doubt that they would even be making any money, if they really ended up finishing the fab.
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