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India preps first domestic fab for chip prototyping

Posted: 17 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:India prototype fab? IC design center? Kolkata IC design?

Construction on a prototype fab which will be part of the India Design Center in Kolkata will begin within the next 12 months. The fab is being established by the information technology ministry of West Bengal, with support likely from federal agencies.

The prototype fab will be part of the approximately $120 million design center which also houses incubation centers, chip design and EDA tool development companies. Once the facility is ready, it will serve as the first domestic fab for chip prototyping.

Debesh Das, West Bengal's minister for information technology, said the prototype fab is intended for emerging Indian companies.

Das, a former professor of test technologies, said the state government will also look at offering venture capital to design startups.

According to Pradip Dutta, managing director of Synopsys (India), "The prototype fab will help fabless startups in India who can try out their chips here instead of committing to a foundry elsewhere." He added that the fab will have facilities for characterization and "could even provide 45nm process technologies for prototype purposes."

The fab will be located near prestigious engineering institutes such as the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IITK) and Jadavpur University. The former will be the technical partner for the prototype fab.

Most Indian chip designers are located in Kolkata or in Noida (near New Delhi), Hyderabad and Pune. Synopsys said it is not now considering a tool development center in the proposed facility since it has facilities around the country, Dutta said.

Anand Anandkumar, managing director of Magma Design Automation's Indian operations, also said it has no current plans to launch an additional design center in Kolkata.

Poornima Shenoy, president, India Semiconductor Association, predicted the project will push the Indian semiconductor design ecosystem to a higher level. "Given that the industry is battling a shortage of talent, the emergence of a new center is always welcome," Sheny said.

Others noted that the Kolkatta fab will compete with the existing infrastructure in Bengaluru. "A lot of factors will have to play together" for the new fab to attract customers, said chip industry consultant P.V.G. Menon.

Still, Das said several companies have indicated an interest in setting up operations at the new center. In response, the West Bengal government is planning another facility near IITK to house chip design companies.

- K.C. Krishnadas
EE Times

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