Semiconductors are critical for survival in today’s digital environment. Everything from cellphones, fitness trackers, and computers to smart TVs, microwave ovens, and air conditioners use semiconductor chips. Thanks to advances in AI and IoT, semiconductors are at the heart of today’s digital revolution. However, semiconductor manufacturing is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming. Chip design, electronic design automation, Intellectual Property, fabrication, assembly, equipment, wafers, and chemicals are all part of the process. This entire value chain is interdependent on a small number of countries today, including the United States, Taiwan, Japan, China, and a few European states.
Although India has made strides in chip design and electronics production, building Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication (FAB) factories have long been a challenge due to a variety of factors. China and Vietnam, for example, have been preferred destinations for global chip makers because of their cost-effectiveness. India has a distinct advantage in chip design. In India, several international Integrated Device Manufacturers (IDMs) have established design centers and the ecosystem in India today is brimming with all the right parameters to make it big, thereby putting India on the world map for semiconductors.
With the recent Rs 76,000-crore incentive package, the country has taken a significant step toward bringing semiconductor and display fab manufacturing here. Along with goals of creating 100 million manufacturing jobs by 2022, increasing the sector’s contribution to GDP to 25% by 2025, and ensuring an annual growth rate of 12-14 percent, the government’s ‘Make-in-India’ scheme is well-thought-out and a step in the right direction. India’s ultimate ambition today is to undoubtedly become a major player in the global semiconductor supply chain. While India has previously expressed interest in growing semiconductor production, this is the first time that such a robust plan is being put into action.
Semiconductors are an essential component of modern technology, including automobiles, electronic devices, and even medical devices. The strategy will enhance semiconductor production, attract enormous investments and create significant employment, in addition to lowering the country’s dependency on imports. It would not only lessen domestic companies’ reliance on semiconductor imports, but it would also generate revenue through exports.
Today, India employs over 20,000 engineers in the chip design business, according to MeitY. Engineers with experience designing integrated circuits (ICs) are becoming more common in India. Recent events indicate that there is a growing interest in developing manufacturing facilities in India’s important industrial zones, such as Gujarat, Haryana, and Hyderabad. India needs to use a two-pronged approach to close the competitive advantage gap with other countries and secure its place as a market leader in one area where it currently excels. Increasing chip design and research expertise is part of this.
The recent “chip scarcity” or “chip crisis” observed around the world during the pandemic must be remembered. The overall supply chain interruptions were concerning, as was the excessive reliance on a small number of countries for one’s market demands. In the current times, India’s interest in digital transformation, connected devices, and edge computing gives a great opportunity for the country to become a semiconductor production and design center in South Asia. It will be fascinating to observe how industry and government collaborate to establish a robust plan for capitalizing on this potential.
For the better part of the preceding decade, the semiconductor industry was heavily reliant on the smartphone and mobile device sectors. The semiconductor industry’s next major bet is fertile enough as the smartphone market begins to plateau, with significant demand from both the public and private sectors, and AI applications, particularly in the domains of big data, industrial robotics, and autonomous cars. The administration appears keen to seize the opportunity, having released a comprehensive plan of action and committed to massive funding. India and Taiwan are working together to create a semiconductor manufacturing cluster and to educate and train highly specialized personnel for the industry. Experts estimate that about 30% of the 300,000 engineers who graduate each year will go into the semiconductor business for better opportunities themselves. Given these geopolitical considerations, India appears to be an obvious choice for a powerful semiconductor headquarters.
With this and other technological breakthroughs, as well as the introduction of new-age technology such as Metaverse, AI/ML, and other advanced technologies, the demand for vast quantities of processing power is predicted to benefit global chipmakers.
When it comes to high-performance computing (HPC), energy efficiency is another crucial element to consider. One of a few potential computer technologies that could be much more energy efficient than today’s silicon-based systems is quantum computing. Unfortunately, all of these computing technologies are still in the early stages of research, and while they are all fascinating to look at, none of them will contribute to more energy efficient HPC anytime soon. However, the adventure from here on out will undoubtedly be fascinating.
In times to come, Data will drive the global economy, speeding the technological revolution while retaining semiconductors at its core.
The article has been written by Dr. Venkat Mattela, Founder and CEO, Ceremorphic