India wafer fab decision before year-end: Government

February 07, 2012

Details of the proposed wafer fabrication plant to be set up in India will be announced latest by the year-end with talks between the federal government and interested companies getting down to brass tacks.

“The last time the government announced its scheme to have a wafer fabrication plant in India, well, it did not happen. We do not want to go into the details of why that plan did not succeed, but the government has become more flexible now. We are far more willing to meet (a potential investor) half way down the line. Right now, we are taking  the technical decisions such as what technology we must go in, how long that technology is likely to last and the like,” said Sachin Pilot, minister of state for communications and information technology.

Speaking at the India Semiconductor Association’s (ISA) annual summit, he said  a decision will be made in the next few months, and at the latest, by the year-end.

The government made it clear that the country will have a wafer fabrication plant and that the government has decided to solve the riddle of whether a fab will lead to an ecosystem being built or the other way round.

“The government will answer this problem by investing in and do whatever else is needed for a fab. Significant progress has been made in our talks with potential contenders,” said R. Chandrashekhar, secretary, Department of Information Technology, Government of India.

On the fear that imports of electronic components and products will overtake the cost of petroleum imports within a decade, he said the government was seized of this possibility and the imminent National Electronics Policy will address this problem.

The seventh annual summit of the ISA, like the first one, is grappling with the issue of a lack of an electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the country. Speaking at the summit Aart de Geus, chairman and CEO of Synopsys, said the question of whether India should or not have electronics manufacturing, will be somewhat addressed due to the success of the Akash tablet for education.

“This brings up the question of electronics manufacturing – manufacturing, power availability, distribution, Wi-Fi access, software, fabless semiconductor design – and India must decide which areas it wants to differentiate itself in, before spending billions on a fab. The (pent-up) demand for the tablet computer begs the question of manufacturing in India,” de Geus said.




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