A totally agree that countries underestimate the table-stakes of getting involved in semiconductors by orders of magnitude.
You may remember that during the unionification of Germany, the state of Saxony working with Dubai thought a few hundred million dollars would be enough to leverage a position in SiGe manufacturing through a vehicle called Communicant. I don't think the fab shell got finished.
Take two was Abu Dhabi setting aside $10 billion to get into chip manufacturing, with the possibility of a fab in the emirate, through the acquisition of manfucturing operations belonging to AMD and the city-state of Singapore.
Most of that money has now been used to create Globalfoundries but it is starting to seem unlikely that a wafer fab will be built in Abu Dhabi. Soon GloFo is going to have to stand on its own two feet, make profits and compete with TSMC, Samsung and Intel.
But I still feel that fabs in Malaysia whether owned by the state or multinationals, are good for Malaysia. And even a trailing-edge fab in India churning out MEMS microphones or such like, could be making exports for India and bringing much needed revenue into the country.
A lot of thinking has gone into this and the government wouldn't want it to boomerang again. A number of drafts and recommendations have been made and probably right decisions would be made. No doubt, we missed the bus but there is no harm trying.. better to have what you need than need what you don't have. There are some key people in the government whom I meet quite often and they don't really come across as duds or capitalist cronies. There are highly educated and many of them are Ph.Ds.... I am sure they would have done their research and put forth their views too and none of them is a bribe-taking bureaucrat, at least not the hard-core type. I am talking about IAS officers not politicians.
Incidentally, to reply to chipmonks's post the reason Intel moved to Vietnam was not because it thought that putting up a fab in India was unrealistic, (incidentally, it played a key role ( low-key though) when the talks were going on for the 2006 SemIndia fab) but the reason was that the government had a long wish-list and Intel didn't want to comply with that... that's why it moved to Vietnam. Not because it thought that a fab wouldnt work. If that was the reasoning, how come IBM, (an equally conservative multinational) is planning to be a part of the TowerJazz consortium?
India is not always " displaying the worst aspects of popular democracy & crony capitalism combined with hilarious chest - thumping ( post Y2K )." This is a huge country and for instance, lets just take the political parties -- believe it or not, there are 363 political parties (seven national parties, 34 state parties, and 242 registered and unrecognized parties) and all are supposedly working for the good of the people, But despite all this, there is still widespread poverty and inequality of wealth and of course the great digital divide.
The market is huge, like I said earlier in the report and if India can work on a project (Aadhaar) whch is about giving a unique identification number to over one billion people and handle all the logistics and supply chain management of a project of this scale ( by the way, it is headed by Nandan Nilekani, co-founder $ former co-chairman of Infosys), I am sure it can work its way around a fab too. Sure, tons of problems are going to be there but things have a way of working themselves our or dying out. Lets hope the latter doesn't happen again. And, even if it does, so what?.. life goes on minus a fab. Havent we heard of the word, resilience?
You have stated that you have frequent contact with many of the key figures involved in setting up a Wafer Fab in India. Wondering if they ever check EE Times ? I believe that it would help them considerably if they were to review the comments made here.
You could do them ( especially the Ministry types ) and India a big favor by directing them to these comments.
BTW what is IBM's stake in the Tower / Jazz proposal ? Would they invest ? or is it just Technical Consultancy for a fee ?
Well in country like India where there are so many different languages, so many mainstream religions, every state has their own language and culture. On the top of this country has the second highest population in the world and there is democracy. Government cannot do anything even if they are willing to do. Citizens are ready to take their right but no one wants to do their duty, the country is lucky that IT software boom happened and companies are still running. With such a political instability and corruption, its a risky game to invite manufacturing. Its easy to export software but for Fab everything from politics to local manpower matters, it wont be wasy for country like India. And absolutely no surprises that the project is delayed, here things take many year to become a reality.
The data being circulated everywhere in India is that India will import USD200 Billion worth of Electronics Products by 2020 . Indian Government agencies know that such a big import bill is not possible and hence something need to be done . Building a fab is one of the solutions being proposed in that big puzzle . But , the question is what will be produced in those fabs when there are no big Systems and Product design houses in India . India is importing almost its entire requirement of more than USD 50 billion of telecom equipments . Hence , it is very obvious that the cutting edge Fab should not be the first priority . Firstly , India should groom big System design houses and Fabless semicinductor companies , almost 100 to 200 of them and at least 20-30 of them having revenue of more than USD500 million . This process will take 4-5 years and in between it will be very obvious whether a fab is needed . Presently , just be smart and use Fab facilities around the globe .
How illogical is it for the biggest economies to have a fab?
Not withstanding that its also the largest silicon design power house?
Rather than spend transportation costs from the highest cost fab in the US, it's better to ramp locally for the large(est) economy.
@Sufia: You narrated many points about India with negative connotation. It was very difficult to read and pungent. Most learned people otherwise has lots of praise for India. India also has so many achievements and you should also be very proud of that. You may try to contribute whatever you can.
As for fab, may be India has special need for it - Defence and Space. And India struggels to achieve that. Commercial fab may not be of so much interest to Indian Government. SCL was effort in that direction but story circulates that it was sabotage to SCL as it was actively engaged in Indian Military and Space program.
Delays and delays are quite common in Indian governance system. There is no surprise in that and nothing wrong in telling the truth. India was basically an agriculture country and few years back IT boom came and suddenly everyone started exporting softwrae services. Outsourcing became a big hit as wages here are much lower as compare to Western countries and there was time difference. Even though major portion of the software gets exported from cities like Bangalore, one can easily see the bad condition of infrastructure. You just cant drive on the road. ITs better to have a bicycle but then only God can save your life from potholes and bad drivers.
While software is a comparatively easy business to set up in cities like Bangalore or countries like India but setting up fab is different ball game. Government and politics play very crucial role and you are not just dealing with high profile engineers. In countries like China where communist is the governmnt many decisions can be taken fast and there is no un necessary politics to stop development. But in India situation is totally different, one government change can make different opinions.