This article aims to shed light on the objectives, significance, and potential impacts of the ISRC on the Indian technology landscape and how it will help India leapfrog into the club of a few countries that call the shots for designing and fabricating the most advanced Semiconductor Chips (ICs).
What do Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Belgium, the USA, and other countries that design and develop the most advanced semiconductor chips have in common? They all have government-promoted, industry-collaborated institutes of excellence that made them leaders in cutting-edge technology.
How is India positioned concerning advanced technologies?
India, as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, has often been seen juggling with the balance between rapid technological advancement and its dependence on foreign tech imports. One of the most vital sectors where India has traditionally been an importer is semiconductors. Recognizing the importance of fostering domestic research and production capabilities, India proposes to establish its Semiconductor Research Center (ISRC) like the advanced economics as stated above.
MeitY’s recommendation for setting up ISRC
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has suggested that the government invest $2.5-3 billion in setting up the India Semiconductor Research Centre (ISRC). The aim is to position India as a leading global supplier of semiconductors, packagers, and integrated systems. The center will cover all aspects of the process from design to final product.
The MeitY envisions ISRC as a world-class research institution focusing on semiconductor processes, advanced packaging, compound semiconductors, and Fabless designing and developing EDA tools. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (IT) said that ISRC will start in 2024 in collaboration with the industry and academia.
The committee is formed to take the ISRC forward. Its members include
- Randhir Thakur of Tata Electronics,
- Hem Takiar of Micron Technology,
- Akash Tripathy – CEO of the Indian Semiconductor Mission,
- Senior professors from IIT Bombay, Kanpur, and Madras,
- Senior officials from Meity and other members of the industry.
Involve SMEs extensively in the mission
Mr. Chandrasekhar has announced that the India Semiconductor R&D Committee has created a roadmap for ISRC to fulfill Prime Minister Modi’s vision of designing, developing, and fabricating advanced IC chips entirely in India. The roadmap includes the involvement of India’s SME ecosystem in the production of parts.
Encourage indigenous innovation for global leadership
The committee’s report advocates establishing a 1-1.5 lakh sq ft clean room for Semiconductor Infra fab and 20,000-30,000 sq ft for advanced packaging. The ISRC would take care of nurturing and expanding the chip design, fabrication, and packaging R&D. It would encourage indigenous innovation for global leadership and provide a platform for early scaled-up concept verification, and workload-based prototyping such as next-generation chipset-based packaging for AI, 5G/6G, IoT/manufacturing 4.0,”
USD 500 million annual expense to run the show
The capital expenditure for the first three years would be around $2.5-$3 billion. The committee estimates the annual operating expense for maintaining the research center to be around $250 million – $ 500 million.Al
R&D education and capacity building
The government aims to develop skilled manpower for the semiconductor industry, with an estimated cost of Rs 3,200 crore over five years. Several companies, including Vedanta, Samsung, and Intel, are interested in partnering with ISRC for research and development, education, and talent development. The corporate share of this partnership is Rs. 680 Crores.
The committee has recommended that the ISRC should have a minimum of 12 directors on its board. The board will then appoint a CEO for the ISRC. Under the CEO and the board, there will be a Technical Advisory Board which will comprise members from government, industry, and academia. The governance structure of ISRC will also include a management team.
The Technology advisory board will be tasked with putting out a roadmap of the ISRC covering four foundational research pillars — advanced silicon, packaging R&D, compound/power semiconductors, chip design, and EDA.
Mohali Semicon lab
The Semiconductor Laboratory in Mohali will also be modernized to drive innovation while co-locating with the ISRC.
The ISRC signifies India’s dedicated leap towards technological self-reliance. With the right strategies, consistent focus, and collaboration with global experts, ISRC holds the promise of transforming India from a semiconductor consumer to a major player in the global semiconductor landscape. It’s a bold move, and the entire world will be keenly watching its journey.