The private organization will maintain, build, and operate the unit on a fixed income and or, a profit-sharing basis for a time of 15 years
A senior government official who wishes to be unnamed has told the Mint that by the end of this year, the government will take the final decision whether the R&D facility can be developed at Mohali-based Semi-Conductor Laboratory (SCL) or a commercial fab to be set-up. According to the official, the proposal for renovating the SCL unit has been ordered a week back, but the government wishes to do it as soon as possible.
In the coming few weeks, the final decision will be made at which direction the facility will move. The ministry of electronics and information technology has already passed the preliminary information memorandum and is looking for expressions of interest (EoI) from domestic and international companies. By 21st October 2023, the government is expecting responses. “The future course of action also depends on the interest from private players to the modernization proposal," the official added.
Now, according to EoI, the government is looking for two options. It wants to revolutionize SCL into an R&D-led center of excellence coupled with semicon R&D potentials surrounded with cutting-edge nodes, design and EDA tools, compound semiconductors, advanced packaging, and other R&D options. According to an exclusive report of the Mint, a new R&D-cum-prototyping line for 300 mm wafer processing on advanced nodes – of 28nm or below – would be set up, with a roadmap on progressing from 28nm to 14nm and below nodes over time. The R&D fab can also be equipped with sophisticated packaging potentials. In an effort to meet the same, the government is also expected to offer 100 percent capital expenditure assistance.
Apart from this, the government also wants to transform the facility into a chip manufacturing unit. The manufacturing unit is expected to carry out either silicon semiconductor chip fabrication, compound semiconductor chip fabrication or assembly, testing and packaging. Now, it has two options, which have been suggested by the government. There could be a multi-level JV model where the government will offer a capital expenditure upto 50 percent of the entire venture cost. Then, there could be a build, maintain, and operate model where the 100 percent capital expenditure will be borne by the government and grab 100 percent ownership.