Vedanta-Foxconn

India definitely needs work on semiconductors, and compound semiconductors!

The Union Cabinet of India has recently approved the following:

  • Fiscal support of 50% of project cost on pari-passu basis for all technology nodes under scheme for setting up of semiconductor fabs in India.
  • Fiscal support of 50% of project cost on pari-passu basis under scheme for setting up of display fabs.
  • Fiscal support of 50% of capital expenditure on pari-passu basis under scheme for setting up of compound semiconductors / silicon photonics / sensors fab and semiconductor ATMP / OSAT facilities in India. Additionally, target technologies under the scheme will include discrete semiconductor fabs.

Earlier, the Government of India had announced 30-50% incentives for different categories. However, the incentive has now been kept flat at 50% for all categories. Also, the incentive was for 65nm size. Now, it has been removed and all sizes will be covered.

BV Naidu, Chairman, Karnataka Digital Economy Mission, said: “The Government of India, and the state governments are all supporting the semiconductor manufacturing mission. We all want to see this happen. There is no better time than now. We all need to evangelize and support this.”

Two things stand out! First, will MNCs share IPs with those who lack competence in semiconductors? Second, without semiconductors, growth of the Indian economy may get stifled. If manufacture of semiconductors does come up as proposed in India, it is one of the finest things to happen to the Indian economy.

Compound semiconductors needed
Again, compound semiconductors are not new! SiC, GaN, GaAs and InP, etc., have made remarkable entry over the last decades, and continue market ascension. In dynamic power electronic industry, wide-band gap materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) have penetrated markets like automotive and consumer, respectively. Industrial, energy, and communications markets are poised to provide extra momentum to grow.​

Do note that all GaN is not created equally. Different markets require different GaN material solutions. GaN has moved forward in power and RF electronics. There are many opportunities in power delivery, mobility, and automotive apps. E-bikes and e-scooters can be the first wave app. Datacom and telecom apps also provide opportunities.

On the optoelectronic side, the ramp-up of VCSELs in consumer and mobile segments has started a new wave of technology development and investments. Now, all of these are international developments!

WBG offers opportunity
Compound semiconductors or CS are present in RF, power, photonics, display and lighting, from components to apps. There is strong diversity of technology platforms and substrates. Applications range from photonics such as EELs and VCSELs, to LED lighting and display, RF, and power.

Wide-band gap (WBG) materials offer a new opportunity space. WBG power devices apps range include SiC for high-power voltages (>1kV) with high current. GaN in Si is for high-power frequency at mid-range voltages. GaN HEMT device family include normally-on, hybrid drain or GIT, P-GaN, and MIS gate recess.

Developing a semiconductor node is not easy, and takes several years of work. Unless, India can buy certain technology from someone. We do not know if that’s possible, as there is R&D, IPs are involved, and many other things.

One thing is very clear! India needs to work very hard for developing semiconductors, and compound semiconductors. Simply putting out policies may not help in the long run. This has to be backed by solid work on the ground, which is currently missing.

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