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Chip foundry group ISMC plans $3b semiconductor plant in India

Tower Semiconductor’s involvement means Intel could eventually own a piece

An international semiconductor consortium called ISMC Digital plans to invest $3 billion in a new manufacturing plant in India and Intel could eventually own a piece of it.

ISMC is a joint venture between United Arab Emirates-based investment firm Next Orbit Ventures and Israel-based Tower Semiconductor, which Intel plans to acquire for $5.4 billion in a deal that is set to close by early next year.

The semiconductor consortium announced its plan for a $3 billion plant in the southern state of Karnataka on Sunday, with an eye on a slice of the $10 billion in chip subsidies the Indian government is offering chipmakers, The Economic Times reported.

The ISMC plant will manufacture 65nm analog semiconductors, Tower's specialty and a critical component for a wide range of electronics. It's estimated to create about 1,500 jobs, plus 10,000 indirect jobs because of the plant's expected economic impact, according to the Economic Times report.

The report also notes ISMC's Karnataka plant will be "one of the first and largest" fabs created under the India Semiconductor Mission, a government-led initiative that aims to turn the country into an electronics manufacturing powerhouse. The plant will take seven years to complete.

Two other organizations have lined up for chip subsidies from India so far: Singapore-based IGSS and a joint venture between Taiwan-based Foxconn and Indian firm Vendanta.

India is hoping it can also convince Intel and TSMC to set up fabs in the country as part of their multibillion-dollar manufacturing expansions, but no commitments have been made yet.

The country is keen on building out its semiconductor industry in multiple ways, and this includes a newly announced plan to develop "industry-grade" chips based on the open-source RISC-V architecture for servers, mobile devices and other applications.

India's government made several other announcements to boost the semiconductor industry during last weekend's SemiconIndia conference:

  • New deals to design and manufacture 5G IoT chips and base station chips in the country
  • New partnerships to make chip design tools available for India's Chips to Startup Program
  • New collaborations to boost semiconductor research, development and education efforts

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, a former Intel engineer who is now coordinating India's semiconductor efforts as the minister of state for technology and entrepreneurship, said these efforts will help make India a much more significant player in the global electronics industry. ®

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