Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has guest sealed quotes from experts registered to have undertaken the asset valuation of the Semiconductor Laboratory (SCL) owned by ISRO in Mohali.
As part of its recently unveiled $10 billion incentive package to build a semiconductor ecosystem in the country, the Indian government is exploring options to commercialize SCL.
The government is likely to continue its efforts to upgrade and commercialize SCL’s semiconductor chip manufacturing facility through a joint venture.
Formerly known as Semiconductor Complex Limited (a public company), it was transferred to the Space Department in 2006 and renamed SCL.
SCL has integrated supporting facilities/infrastructure under one roof and undertakes activities focusing on the design, development, manufacturing, assembly and packaging, testing and quality assurance of micro devices for various applications.
SCL currently has tools capable of processing starting wafers of 200mm size. In 2021, SCL sought to upgrade its fabs from a 180nm tech node to a 65nm tech node. He would have shared a proposal to MEITY for the upgrade of the technological node
As part of its efforts to modernize SCL, the government is likely to ask MEITY to take over the SCI facility as part of the “Indian Semiconductor Mission”. SCL currently operates under ISRO which is the Department of Space.
SCL had a budget of nearly Rs.370 crore for operations and Rs 230 crore for Capex in 2019-2020
The government is likely to consider several options for commercializing SCL’s operations.
While continuing with the existing 200mm production line, SCL may be requested to expand the capacity of the 180nm technology node. Even as recently as last week there is reports shortage of chips in the 200 mm production lines which persists for a few more years. This will, however, require quick action, including a joint venture with a strong industrial player to capture the market.
Adding (or converting to) compound semiconductor processing capability at SCL will be another roadmap that can be pursued. For CMOS silicon fabrication, the 300mm wafer size has been around for nearly two decades, but many compound semiconductor fabs still primarily process 150mm wafers.
There are reports who suggest “Manufacturers are starting to address this (challenges in existing production lines) by moving to larger 200mm wafer sizes from the current 150mm wafers: This could be an opportunity for SCL provided there is a strong technology partner willing to enter into a joint venture or technology transfer, as well as possibly an Indian business house that can ensure this effort is a commercial success
Another option could be to convert SCL into an “intermediate research organization” (IRO) to bolster semiconductor manufacturing.
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