Ed’s Threads 070406Musings by Ed Korczynski on April 06, 2007Turn-key fabs for India
The tide has turned, and it looks like India will finally be joining the club of fab-ed nations. Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (HSMC) has partnered with Infineon to build at least two fabs in Hyerdabad
, with first silicon planned for 2009. The first 200mm fab will run 130nm CMOS processes and cost ~$1 billion, and the second 300mm fab will cost US$3.2-$3.5 billion. Infineon will also license its design libraries for ICs targeting mobile phones, ID cards, and automotives.
Infineon touts its record of going from cornerstone of the fab to first-wafer-out in under one year in Malaysia, so it has set a clear precedent for successful greenfield fabs in previously undeveloped regions. However, with several other previously proposed Indian fabs abandoned, many analysts currently doubt the likelihood of success of HSMC. TI recently said no to building a fab in India, and Intel, though courted by India, chose China for a new 90nm logic fab. Many analysts site “infrastructure” issues as the primary obstacles for fabs in India, contrasted to Intel’s choice of China as a more viable region today.
In comparing India to China in this regard, I take a longer term perspective and see that India may be today where China was just 10 years ago. When the PRC started Project 909 in 1997 as part of their 9th five-year-plan
, it was the first 200mm submicron fab in the country, and many people questioned whether it could succeed given the perceived problems with the infrastructure. In particular, Shanghai has had electrical power supply problems with black-outs and brown-outs common for the last decade as it grew factories at a frantic pace. Yet the government understood that power loss to a fab causes greater problems than simple downtime, and it set the priority that semiconductor fabs will always get power.
All you really need to keep a fab running is a road to an international airport, water, electricity, and mostly clean air (and the outside air has to be seriously bad to make a difference—i.e., the 1997 massive forest fires in Indonesia that messed up fabs in Singapore). If a government is motivated to set priorities, then it can all be established in a year or two.
For example, the original Motorola MOS-17 fab, now owned and operated by SMIC, was built in Tianjin, China, which is separated from the international airport in Beijing by a mountain pass regularly closed by snowfall in the winter. With priority snowplows, the road closes for at most one or two days to keep supplies running. Similarly, water can be prioritized, and newer fabs can be run with more efficient reduce/reuse/recycle strategies to minimize consumption. The competition between industry, agriculture, and people for water rights remains a very politically sensitive issue, but if there’s the will there’s the way.
Incidentally, the very ground upon which the fab is built doesn’t even have to be that stable. SMIC and GSMC had to spend an extra few months and rumored hundreds of million of dollars to drive special “resistance” foundation pylons more than 100 feet deep into the marshy land of PuDong (similar to the building of the world-famous and still productive Ford Motor Company Rouge Plant over 2000 acres of “bottomland” in Dearborn, Michigan
SEMindia has lobbied the government to provide the infrastructure needed
. Hyderabad is building a new international airport—not coincidentally near Fab City
, along with freeways, new power-generation, and water has been set aside. So it all seems rather do-able—if Indian leaders make it a priority.
Unfortunately, a prominent politician has reportedly dampened some fab plans by insisting that there is limited room in Hyerdabad for only 3-4 fabs
instead of the 10 ultimately proposed by HSMC. It is difficult to interpret this as encouraging, though it may reflect the government’s reasonable assessment of the near-term limits to how much they can stretch the infrastructure. There are already two other fabs in the works.SEMindia
partnered with AMD to build a wafer fab that is still planned, while they have already started on a scaled down $250 million assembly and test plant. Nano-Tech Silicon India (NTSI)
—a fab set up with used 200mm tools and led by a South Korean businessman—is supposed to see first silicon out this year.SiliconIndia
is a network of “non-resident Indian” (NRI) talent that may return to help launch fabs. Let’s see what happens, but I predict ultimate success for Fab City and semiconductor manufacturing in India.
Labels: fab, Fab City, HSMC, Hyerdabad, India, NTSI, SEMindia
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070406: Turn-key fabs for India