India eyes modernization of state-owned chip fabrication agency to restore its former glory

Jingyue Hsiao, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

As India strives to build localized semiconductor manufacturing capabilities, the South Asian country is looking to find partners for its government-owned chip fabrication lab, which was once India's sole commercial foundry in the 20th century.

According to The Economic Times and Business Standard, the Indian government reportedly formed a committee and issued an expression of interest to look for commercial and technology partners with the necessary technological and operational expertise to modernize the Semiconductor Lab (SCL), located in Mohali near Chandigarh.

India unveiled the INR760 billion (US$9.12 billion) India Semiconductor Mission and earmarked part of the budget to rebuild SCL, which was once India's sole commercial semiconductor foundry in the 1980s until it was destroyed by a fire in 1989. SCL restarted operation in 1997 and was turned into a government-owned research agency, making thousands of 200mm wafers a month for space missions based on 180nm process node.

According to the reports, India plans to transform SCL into an R&D-led Center of Excellence with R&D capabilities covering areas including fabrication on advanced nodes, advanced packaging, compound semiconductors, design and EDA tools, and materials.

Analytics India Magazine quoted Arun Mampazhy, a semiconductor analyst, saying that India's path to achieving semiconductor self-sufficiency depends on the revival of SCL. Meanwhile, Ravindra Prakash Dubey, founder and president of IITian4Nation, told Analytics India Magazine that when pursuing modernization, it should be closely linked to effective commercialization, which naturally requires the participation of diverse industry players, encompassing customers, financial institutions, and with research institutions and universities, without which genuine achievement of commercialization is not feasible.