Why India may lose Cricket wafer fab

Article By : Peter Clarke

Dreams of building a multinational wafer fab to boost the semicon industry are gradually slipping away due to concerns over infrastructure.

The plan to setup an analog and power pure-play foundry project for 2016 in sub-continent India has been stalled and feared ending up being constructed in a different country.

Cricket Semiconductor has been targeting Indore in Madhya Pradesh as the likely location–and that it would begin producing chips in 2018.

"The project has taken longer than we had anticipated, and it may continue to move at a pace that is slower than our preference," Lou Hutter, a former Texas Instruments executive working on the project, said in email correspondence with EE Times Europe.

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Figure 1: Former Texas Instruments executive, Lou Hutter.

Hutter said he and others had put tens of thousands of hours into the project, but it remains challenged by concerns over Indian infrastructure, a perception that there is a lack of indigenous semiconductor manufacturing expertise and the high level of capital expenditure required to start a semiconductor wafer fab business.

"Progress in India can be very slow, and that is what we have seen. We have spent over three years, putting in tens of thousands of hours of time and energy, as well as resources, on this project. And we did this because we want to help India establish its first world-class production fab, and we are confident that an analog/power wafer fab is the most cost-effective and defensible way to do this," Hutter said in email.

Hutter said his team had found a receptive audience with strategic investors including multinational semiconductor companies. "They vetted our business and financial assumptions, ratifying the basic tenets of our world-class analog/power foundry strategy. It must be noted, however, that there is scepticism among these established semiconductor players regarding a wafer fab in India, for exactly the factors mentioned above, particularly the infrastructure issues."

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