Here are highlights of the Union budget 2013-14 presented by P. Chidambaram, union Finance minister, Government of India. Also, is there finally, some hope for the Indian semiconductor industry?
* Doing business with India should be easy, friendly and helpful.
* Foreign investments must be encouraged.
* Accelerating growth is the main goal.
* Need to encourage FDI in consonance with economic priorities.
* To target $1 trillion in infrastructure in the 12th plan.
* There are incentives for semiconductor wafer fab manufacturing.
* There will be appropriate incentives for the semiconductors industry, including zero customs duty on plants and machineries.
* To increase allocation for science and atomic departments.
* Indian Institute of BioTechnology to be set up at Ranchi.
* Non-conventional wind energy sector needs help.
* Will encourage cities to take up waste-energy projects through PPPs.
* Plan being developed for Chennai-Bangalore industrial corridor.
* Preparatory work started for Bengalooru-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
* To launch two new industrial cities in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
* Propose to continue with the Technology Upgradation funds scheme for the textile sector.
* India’s first women’s public sector bank to be set up.
* Woman’s bank license to be in place by October, 2013.
* All PSU banks branches to have ATMs by March, 2014.
* Zero customs duty for electrical plants and machinery proposed.
* Higher customs duty on set-top boxes.
* To provide more than Rs 4200 crore for medical studies.
* To allocate Rs 1106 crore for alternative medicine industry.
* To allocate 100 crores to AMU, BHU, TISS-Guwahati and INTACH.
* Government to set up National Institute of Sports Coaches in Patiala.
* To expand private FM radio to 294 cities.
* To auction 839 licenses for FM network to cover all India.
* Government to construct power transmission system from Srinagar to Leh at the cost of Rs 1,840 crore, Rs 226 crore provided in current budget.
* Mobile phones priced more than Rs. 2,000 will see duty raised by 6 percent.
* Extend tax benefit to electrical vehicles.
* A company investing Rs 100 crore or more in plant and machinery in April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2015 will be allowed 15 percent investment deduction allowance apart from depreciation.
* SEBI to simplify KYC norms governing foreign investors.
* SEBI will simplify procedures for entry of foreign portfolio investors to invest in India.
* Higher outlay on waste management.
* Government to monitor cost of doing business in India.
* Zero customs duty proposed for electrical plants and machinery.
* Proposal to provide Rs. 800 crore for the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy for generation-based incentive for wind energy projects as the non-conventional wind energy sector deserves incentives.
* Government will provide low interest bearing funds from the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) to IREDA to on-lend to viable renewable energy projects. The scheme will have a life span of five years.
* Proposal to set apart Rs. 2,000 crore and asked the National Innovation Council to formulate a scheme for the management and application of the fund.
Coming to semiconductors, the world today is discussing the viability of 450mm fabs. I am well aware that Malcolm Penn has been pushing for 450mm fabs across Europe. I believe that one such fab will cost in the excess of $25 billion, if not more. So, who will invest that kind of money in India? Do we have clean water and 24-hour electricity supply in any state that’s required for such a fab? What will this so-called 450mm fab manufacture? Does the fab have a blueprint in place? Well, have we even addressed any of these questions?
The other day, I was engaged in an interesting discussion regarding the Indian semiconductor industry. The obvious question: can fabless semiconductor take India to the top?
Well, it all depends on the definition of ‘top’! Does it mean the role of India-based semiconductor companies as a percentage of the semiconductor market globally? Or, do we take India as a system/gadget maker and thus, as a percentage of that market??
Fabrication is increasingly expensive, much involved and the actual global fabrication players (i.e. those who (also) own a fabrication plant) are declining and will be about three to four companies, and about 10, if we include all off those Chinese fabs.
And, India continues to slip back in having a ((proper) fab!
Now, India’s contributions to global electronics and semiconductors will continue to increase as the MNC subsidiary companies’ hub, and not quite as India-based companies, who are coming out with something that will shake the world in terms of that chip(s)!
If India has domestically consuming gadgets, that are more India specific, that could need devices available less outside. For that purpose alone, a local fab could be essential. However, such requirements appear less each day!
So, yes! Fabless semiconductor could be the way forward for India, in terms of contribution to its economy. However, in terms of India becoming a global player through such chips conceptualized in India, for India and the world, the chance is lesser, for now!
Well, hasn’t the Indian semiconductor industry been shouting ‘fabless’ from the rooftops for some years now? Let us see how India has progressed so far!
One, in terms of having local fab, the answer is NO! Two, in terms of increasing its percentage of contribution to global semiconductors, electronics from India, YES, an increasing role and value (though these are embedded software too).
In terms of having India-based companies working toward developing chips, YES again, in terms of smaller, analog, components that are crucial (like Cosmic Circuits), and YES, in terms of having IP-based companies (like Innovative Logic India for USB3.0) and, YES in terms of increasing service companies.
Many more companies are coming up, and some started directly here in India, such as Apsconnect, Techvulcan, etc. In terms of the actual solutions, YES again, as we have developed solutions in medical, automation, etc.
However, the answer to the question remains NO in terms of having chips come out of India, as yet!
Now, what happens to the fab-lite strategy? Well, it continues, globally. From an India perspective, it is actually in a way, validation of the earlier belief. There is less direct importance to manufacturing from themselves, but more about the actual value add they do OR can do.
Now, given this situation, let us also look at the key growth drivers in Indian electronics, especially, since we are talking about fabless and fab-lite.
The obvious one is to develop solutions for the India market. It is likely that these can be for outside markets as well. This ability will actually make India develop solutions for global markets. Also, these are not semiconductors per se, but, (embedded) solutions based on them.
The above situation can slowly lead to a fabrication and manufacturing ecosystem in India. India should also try to position itself at the higher end of the solutions, markets, services, etc., so that its value contribution can be much more.
Friends, is there a way out of the current situation that India finds itself?
Actually, this is normal process of growth in the chosen path. India continues to think about low end, less (or no) risk options of services. There is only so much growth, revenue, profit possible in those areas unless one goes up the market.
India has not done that as it could be, as an ecosystem in all. India should focus on its own internal requirements. That could mean growth and an increasing role for India, globally, as well!
Besides manufacturing, the big issue lies in marketing of such products. A senior statesman from a leading Indian electronics firm once asked me, “How will India compete in marketing of these products compared to the Chinese or Taiwanese manufacturers, who have more than 30 years of experience in these industries?”
How one wishes that India had at least two wafer fabs by now, what with the technology nodes constantly upping their ante. Even if someone does decide to put up a fab, it will be extremely expensive and has to be cutting-edge. However, as I said, one should never give up hope!
And then, there is the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS).
The newly announced M-SIPS is long awaited and much needed. The key is to now turn this ‘gazette notification’ into implementation, by the regulators, and utilisation by the industry.
It is understandable that the government can only do so much, particularly, under the given circumstances. With that kept in mind, this is a yet another good start! Hopefully, instead of just commenting on this policy, the industry sincerely works to benefit from it by properly utilizing it.
Why just think of digitalization of TV! The number of set-top boxes required across the country will be huge! Or, think of electrification of roads all over India. The number of LEDs required are likely to be massive. These are just two examples of the many possible. The Indian electronics industry needs to move fast, and now!
Hasn’t all of this been very easy to say, difficult to manage!
Rich Beyer, chairman and CEO, Freescale Semiconductor, at the Freescale Technology Forum 2011, in Bangalore, India.
Prior to this year’s FTF, Freescale marked another milestone in our company’s history. We have returned to the public trading arena with our IPO on May 26. We used the proceeds from the IPO to pay down a portion of our debt and reduce our interest expense. This will enable Freescale to continue to grow our investments in products, software, sales and customer support. We are confident, as a result, we will continue to offer you even better world class solutions.
Having publicly traded stock will also give us more flexibility than just available cash to fund potential acquisitions and future innovation investments that will reinforce our competitive differentiation moving forward. And, the IPO is a strong affirmation that Freescale is on a very successful trajectory in the eyes of the investment community! While we have changed to become a publicly traded company, we have not changed our vision or our strategic focus. Our vision remains the same: we are committed to being the leader in embedded processing solutions.
We will continue to build on our market leadership positions by focusing on our core strengths: embedded processors, applications processors, microcontrollers and DSPs; RF, analog and sensors; and the software that delivers a clear competitive advantage to our customers.
Era of connected intelligence
Over the past several years, we have entered the era of connected intelligence where embedded processing is driving the Internet of Things. In the PC era of the past, processing was centralized within a traditional computing environment. Users relied heavily on computing hardware and rigid software to perform desired tasks.
In today’s era of connected intelligence, data is ubiquitous, and we expect our electronic devices to conform to us. We want them to be social and mobile. They are aware of our surroundings, and they understand and adapt to the context in which we are using them. They are always on and they are always with us.
We are at an inflection point in what is driving semiconductor innovation. In the PC era, the focus was on the sheer performance of the processor. The power consumption implications were handled by a building bigger box, adding a cooling fan or using a larger battery.
In the era of Connected Intelligence, embedded processing performance needs to be balanced with power efficiency, and system capability is enabled by the intelligent integration of sensor, RF and analog interfaces and the usage of efficient, system sparing software.
The insatiable demand for connectivity will continue to push the industry for solutions that deliver more performance, improved efficiency and lower operating costs. Semiconductor innovation now is being driven by embedded processing solutions with a system-level view and developed with an application-level expertise that is critical to efficient and timely implementation. Read more…
IC Insights recently released the 1H-11 top 20 semicon sales leaders. No surprises here, with Intel, Samsung, TSMC, TI and Toshiba as the top five leaders in that order. In all, 10 of the top 20 suppliers outperformed the total global semiconductor industry 1H11/1H10 growth rate of 4 percent.
The fabless companies — notably, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and so on, have registered positive growths. However, if you really look carefully, a lot of the companies thereafter have registered negative growth for the period 1H-11 over 1H-10.
What’s surprising to notice is the fact that at least seven companies — Renesas, Hynix, Micron, AMD, Infineon, Elpida and NXP have registered negative growth! This, during a period when the semiconductor industry was said to be on the rebound? Whatever the reasons, they are all in the red!
Now, we are not spent from discussing an industry turnaround, which is perhaps there! Also, the forecast for 2H-11 isn’t something to go overboard. IC Insights expects the 2H11/1H11 semiconductor market to grow only 6 percent, that is, a full-year 2011 semiconductor industry growth rate of 5 percent.
Closer to home, as usual, there are no Indian firms in the global top 20 list. As things stand, they may not even make it to the list, at least, for quite a while. One hopes that this situation somehow changes. Wonder, how did the India Semiconductor Association (ISA)-Frost & Sullivan study come up with a figure of 28.3 percent growth in 2010! Perhaps, I am mistaken in my calculations somewhere!!