No fab plans but eyes on massive laptop manufacturing ecosystem: Intel India MD


Intel has no plans to set up a semiconductor fabrication unit in India in the near future and is unlikely to expand its manufacturing capacities for other products, said the company’s India managing director Santosh Viswanathan.

The technology major is instead focusing on enabling ecosystem players in the production linked incentive (PLI) scheme to scale up electronics manufacturing chains in the country, which he said would lead to more job creation.  

“At this point in time, we don’t have any plans to do a fab or build any manufacturing capacity in India at this stage, but it doesn’t mean the engagement stops. We are constantly engaged on the conversation of building the infrastructure and really set it up for the years ahead,” Viswanathan said.  

He added that while India’s policies on making the country a semiconductor hub will bear fruit, Intel takes into consideration factors such as proximity to clients, supply chain, target markets, shipping rates, and geopolitical stability, besides local incentives since the plans require heavy capital investments.  

“If you look at a leading edge fab, it takes about $10-20 billion to build one. It’s a very complex ecosystem. One will need to figure out materials, suppliers, location, and not just labour but the entire ecosystem around it,” he said.

Besides the basic requirements of water and land, such plants would also need 350 megawatts of power every day, in addition to the right regulatory environment, processes to run waste management, and more capital and financing from the government.  

“It’s not whether India will become a semiconductor hub, it definitely will. But it’s just that we got to go address all of these factors. Once we start building the foundation for these, it will definitely happen,” Viswanathan said. 

The Indian government’s $10-billion financial assistance plan for establishing semiconductor fabrication units and allied services has several suitors. The government has approved US-based Micron Technology Inc.’s plans for setting up a testing and packaging unit in Gujarat, which is already under way. 

Minister of state for electronics and IT, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, said earlier this week that the government has received four proposals for setting up semiconductor manufacturing plants, and 13 for chip assemblies units. 

The Intel India head said the company was looking at partnering with local electronics manufacturing services and original design manufacturers that are part of the PLI program to make laptops in India. 

“We are engaged deeply with all PLI 2.0 players. Teams are working closely with them, understanding the products they’re building, the cost structure, pieces needed to connect with, and different variables of the supply chain,” Viswanathan said. “The second step is to help them design products and get it right the first time and third is go-to-market.”

Intel has already collaborated with eight such companies, including Dixon Technologies, Optiemus Electronics, and Syrma SGS Technology. 

Intel in December launched artificial intelligence-embedded laptops that are being rolled out in India across brands. Intel’s Core Ultra AI laptops will be launched by local as well as global players in the Indian market shortly, Viswanathan said.

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