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Toshiba-Sandisk Fab 4 takeaways for Indian fabs

September 7, 2007

The recent news regarding the opening of Toshiba-Sandisk Fab 4, the latest 300mm wafer fabrication facility for NAND flash memory at Toshiba’s Yokkaichi Operations, in Mie Prefecture, Japan, may have missed the eyeballs of many of us.

There are lot of takeaways for those looking to set up fabs in India. HSMC and SemIndia are building fabs in FabCity, Hyderabad.

Obviously, funding was never a problem for Toshiba and Sandisk. Toshiba funded the construction of the Fab 4 building, and Flash Alliance, Ltd, a Toshiba-SanDisk venture established in July 2006, 50.1 percent owned by Toshiba and 49.9 percent by SanDisk, is funding the advanced manufacturing equipment now being installed in the fab.

HSMC and SemIndia would have partners for its fabs. HSMC has roped in Infineon as a technology partner and licensed its 130nm technology, while SemIndia has AMD as a partner, besides having folks such as Flextronics and Broadcom, among others by its side.

Some other learnings from Toshiba-Sandisk’s Fab 4 are: it has been designed to minimize any impact on operations from natural disasters. Also, Fab 4 would employ 56nm process technology at start-up, and plans for the gradual transition to 43nm technology, starting from March 2008. Maybe, the proposed Indian fabs would need to look at both aspects. Yes, 130nm is a good area to start, but let’s look ahead at what the industry’s doing too. By the way, Toshiba-Sandisk Fab 4 was built in about a year’s time. So, the fabs coming up in India should perhaps, look at similar timelines.

May I mention here that recently, a member from an Israeli semicon delegation mentioned that it would not be a bad idea for India to have 200mm fabs, which would be able to make products for the aftermarket. However, India does not have a concept of aftermarket yet.

In between, there’s news that Hynix signed a contract to sell the equipment in its 200-mm fab in Wuxi, China to China Resources Holdings. Now, should this have any bearing on the idea of a 200mm fab? Or should Indian fabs focus on having 300mm fabs? It’s for them to decide!

It’s worth adding here that the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) has been doing great work in making lots of things happen, the latest being the MoU with the Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA). The MoU focuses on developing business ties and exchanges between companies in the semiconductor industry in the two countries.

Slow India has already missed the Intel bus. Also, there are TSMC and the others, like Tower, who have an eye on India. Should they choose to open shop here big time, there’s every chance that they might steal the thunder from these proposed Indian fabs.

If we are to be a world-class semicon hub, we simply cannot afford to be slow — in strategy and in its implementation. Decisions should be quick and effective!

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