Tata, Tower Semiconductor, TI reportedly apply for Indian semiconductor lab modernization

Jingyue Hsiao, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: AFP

As part of the revival roadmap in semiconductors, India invited bids to modernize its Semiconductor Laboratory (SCL), with Tata, Tower Semiconductor, and Texas Instruments reportedly applying for participation.

The Economic Times quoted sources saying that nine companies, including the Tata Group, Tower Semiconductor, and Texas Instruments, applied to modernize SCL, a government-owned chip fabrication lab.

Under the Semicon India Program announced at the end of 2021, the Indian government is looking to modernize SCL, which can make chips on the 180nm process node or above for strategic and defense applications and lags behind most chipmakers around the world technologically.

Established in 1976, SCL, called Semiconductor Complex Limited at the time, was India's sole commercial chip foundry in the 1980s until it was destroyed by a fire in 1989. SCL was converted into a government-owned laboratory under the Department of Space in 2006 and handed over to India's Ministry of Electronics and IT.

In February 2023, India announced a plan to find a commercial joint venture partner with SCL to modernize SCL's existing facility. In September, Business Standard reported the Indian government 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 SCL.

The Economic Times quoted an unnamed official saying that financial bids will be invited from these applicants once the government decides on the exact nodes to make. An unnamed source told the report that India prefers local companies as SCL is engaged in making strategic and defense chips and does not need to get into commercial production in the sector. Still, the report quoted Satya Gupta, CEO of Epic Foundation, saying that both commercial and strategic goals are required for SCL to modernize and target US$50 million in revenue in five years, most of which come from commercial operations.

The comment from the unnamed official may signal that Tata is likely to lead the SCL modernization, though Tower Semiconductor has been keen to capitalize on India's market potential. SCL upgraded its facility to make 180nm chips with the help of Tower Semiconductor.