The partners have to have cutting-edge experience in wafer foundry operations because it is key to the success of any fab project
The Ministry of Electronics and IT's (MeitY) recently unveiled Rs 76,000 crore India Semiconductor Mission (ISM) under the production linked incentive scheme is said to be a staggering move by the government to gain a high amount of momentum in the $553 billion global semiconductor market. The mission is looking to craft a top-notch electronics and semiconductor cluster with the help of beginning sensors, fabs for compound semiconductors, two display fabs, two silicon wafer fabs, and photonics. Apart from that there are also schemes to unleash Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly & Test (OSAT), Assembly, Testing, Marking, & Packaging (ATMP), and chip design.
In the making of fab clusters, the power and dominance of the project is actually revealed by the technology partners. The partners have to have cutting-edge experience in wafer foundry operations because it is key to the success of any fab project. The present applicants are mostly fuzzy because they are yet to disclose their technology partners backed with fab experience. According to various experts, although these companies have massive investment potential and are successful in their core domain, they are devoid of any experience in wafer fabrication.
For instance, in the Vedanta Foxconn partnership; a single bidding for a display fab and a 28 nm CMOS fab in joint venture. Back in 2016, these minerals and mining company, which are already under various scrutiny by the government had made an attempt to set-up a display fab and hence, in the next year, it purchased a majority share AvanStrate Inc., a Japanese display glass substrate manufacturer. With a 40 percent share, Foxconn has agreed to spend a whopping $118 -$120 million for Vedanta's chip fab project. The high share is because Foxconn is equipped with sturdy design capabilities and it has internal requirements for displays and chips.
Retaliating to the statement above, Arun Mampazhy, a semiconductor veteran and analyst told media, “Vedanta says Foxconn has 28 nm IP, but this is usually related to design libraries. What you really need is the detailed technology, the various manufacturing steps. It isn't clear if they have a technology partner lined up or are still looking for one.” Now, in association with Tower Semiconductor, which was acquired by Intel of late, Abu Dhabi-based NextOrbit Ventures has proposed for ISMC. In the speciality fab process technologies, Tower’s uniqueness are RF Circuits, mixed design and analogue.
Most importantly, the point to be noted is that there is a crystal clear disinterest from India’s business tycoons such as Adani, Tata, Reliance, and Birla. With their huge financial strength they have the ability to partner with leading fabs and help the government to fulfill its mission. Adani and Reliance group are now focussed on green energy space and back in 2008, Reliance tried to set-up a fb in Gujarat’s Jamnagar, but eventually, it discarded the project. Now, Tata is mostly working in the OSAT (Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test) domain. Previously, there were several rumours in the media about Tata-TSMC amalgamation, which at the moment is silent.