Friday, April 22, 2011

Yet another plan for semicon fabs in India?

Interesting! I am a bit surprised to read the news item that India is planning to build its own commercial semiconductor fabs, worth Rs. 25,000 crores or $5 billion.

One of the lines in the release by the PIB, Government of India, states that the electronics hardware sector is capital intensive and facing several disabilities and barriers Therefore, the proposal will have significant impact in resolving these issues and help Indian electronics hardware industry to develop localized content/value addition.

Hasn't this line been repeated time and again? And, what has been the result? Let's hope that India does not forget the mistakes committed during the initial semicon policy or SIPS.

Coming back to the PIB release, it is stated that the Empowered Committee shall submit its recommendations to the Government by 31.7.2011. Why does the Committee need so much time? Hasn't pages and pages been written about India's semicon policy? I wonder whether folks have even looked into all of this properly!

Next, the timing itself! In a post last April, I had mentioned that the Indian semiconductor policy, which was announced back in 2007, had supposedly expired on March 31, 2010! What have the so-called industry caretakers been doing up until now? One does not plan to release a revised policy more than a year post its expiry! It should be immediate!!

It was also proposed to extend the deadline of India’s semicon policy up to March 2015! Whatever happened to that?

Where will the proposed semiconductor fab or fabs be set up? At FabCity in Hyderabad? I don't think so!

One good thing to come out of all this -- there is still some hope for having a fab in India. I am using the word 'hope' as there are many, including myself, who feel that all of this is perhaps, a wee bit late call!

As of now, India could possibly look globally for any fab or fabs to buy out! It simply does not have the time to build one! By the time this Committee comes out with its responses by end July 2011, it will be too late. Here's why!

Let's say that some folks could actually invest money to build a fab. This will be followed by trying to find a land, and then, possible investors. By the time all of this happens, it will be a good 12-18 months, or possibly, 2013. Next, what's going to be the nature of the fab that India builds? Is it 200nm, or 300nm, or 28nm? How much would a state-of-the-art fab actually cost? Has any study been done of where the global industry would be by the time a semicon fab start in India?

These, and many more such questions need to answered.

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