Indian Wafer Fab Will be Specialty Foundry
LONDON — Cricket Semiconductor—a company set up with the purpose of building and operating $1 billion analog and power semiconductor wafer fab in India—will operate as a specialty foundry, according to Lou Hutter, one of two former Texas Instruments executives who formed the company.
Cricket Semiconductor’s plan is to break ground in 2016 on the wafer fab and to begin producing chips for customers in 2018, Hutter said in email correspondence to EE Times Europe. And Cricket has plans for additional fabs in the future although the company is focused right now on getting its first wafer fab constructed.
And that can only happen if sufficient support can be found for what is estimated to be a billion-dollar investment and it seems that as yet a final decision on where the first wafer fab will be located is still pending (see Could India’s Analog Wafer Fab be Moving South?).
“We will focus on being a specialty foundry. We must focus globally as there is insufficient business in India at this time to fill a wafer fab. Hence, this fab needs to be globally competitive in order to compete for worldwide customers,” said Hutter in the email.
Hutter added that over time he expected to see Cricket Semi providing chip-manufacturing support to more India-based companies as the local ecosystems gets going. “However, we cannot expect Indian fabless companies to use us just because we’re an Indian foundry if we’re not globally competitive in terms of cost, quality, technology, etc. Hence, we need to earn their business just like we earn everyone else’s,” Hutter said.
Hutter confirmed that Cricket Semiconductor had met with officials from the state of Telangana, along with officials from a number of other Indian states but added that Cricket Semiconductor is “comfortable” with the state of Madhya Pradesh. Cricket signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Madhya Pradesh in February 2015 agreeing to collaborate on the analog/power wafer fab project.
“Many states understand the importance of semiconductor manufacturing as a catalyst to the Indian electronics ecosystem,” said Hutter. “The analog/power wafer fab strategy is well-aligned to India’s needs and is seen as an investable project.”
However, other Indian wafer fab projects appear to have bogged down. At least two wafer fab projects – one with a consortium including IBM and Tower Semiconductor and the second involving STMicroelectronics and Silterra Malaysia – appear to come to a halt due to a lack of willingness to back such projects with regional state or central government funds.