25th April 2011

India’s latest fab push

Setting up fabs has been a point/initiative that keeps popping in and out in the Indian semicon landscape; and has been happening ever since India’s main fab (SCL) in Mohali had a major fire in late ‘80s!
(incidentally STMicro and IME/S’pore owe a lot to that as the SCL employees moved to these and other pastures following the fire!)

As mentioned in the article, a couple of years back the fab initiative again got some major push courtesy SemIndia as well as Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp/Infineon combo but never took off.

While there are several proponents for building semicon fabs in India, personally I am not too gung-ho about the same J, mainly because

·        India does not have the apt environment and infrastructure needed for a fab (these fabs can help a lot on the local employment scene, though)

·        Fabs are too costly to be handled by small players. I do not see the big ones entering here in India w/o being incentivized by sizeable subsidies/tax breaks from the govt.  Intel was an interested player (though I think for backend fab) but the govt. and the tech bellwether could not come to anything mutually beneficial.
·        Even if the fab comes, the technology produced is another question. Are we talking about the low end technos (how will that develop “localized content and value-addition to the Indian made electronic products”?) or the high end ones (which IDM/foundry will opt for this?)
·        With fabs increasingly being seen as only a big players’ game (or of a consortium of big players) and IDMs going fab-lite, there is not much fiscal sense in pushing for a domestic fab in India. Even strategically (long term), it is a too high cost game for new players. However, should it be for some analog process (which generically trails behind the digital ones), it may make sense – will TI be interested (it already has a big R&D set-up in India)
 

 ·       I personally see hardware morphing into a diminishing role in the electronic products – software (embedded as well as application) is growing into a differentiating niche. India can leverage its strengths in embedded design, software development and large domestic market to attract the big global players further and climb up further in the value-chain. It has already been doing so (moving from routine tasks outsourced from the global HQs to local offices to chip development and now slowly on to system development)

 Domestic fabs can spawn the right eco-system to catalyse India into a big player but right now the odds are too much stacked against it – and am not sure if the projected gains are sufficient to warrant this path….

posted in Semiconductor, Business, Foundry | 0 Comments

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