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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

February - 2007 - issue > In My Opinion

Do we need a Vitamin or Painkiller?

Vinod Dham
Sunday, September 6, 2020
Vinod Dham
Acclaimed globally as the 'Father of Pentium', Vinod Dham has 40+ years of experience in developing semiconductor products, technologies, and Venture Capital. Currently serving as the President and COO of AlphaICs Corporation, Vinod founded IndoUS Venture Partners, a cross-border easy stage VC fund to invest in start-ups in 2005. Over the last fifteen years, Vinod has been a lively figure in the venture capital industry after him successfully pioneered 'Venture capital and Start-up fever' in India. Prior to AlphaICs, Vinod was the CEO of Silicon Spice, a chip design start-up and before that he was the COO at NexGen. He also worked for Intel as the Vice President of Pentium Processor Division and during his 16 year tenure at Intel, he led Intel 386 compaction, i486, and the Pentium Processor families. He was amongst the Indian-Americans who have helped shape America, at a first-ever exhibition on South East Asians in the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. Also, he was named as one of the top 25 executives in the computer industry and one of the top 100 most influential Asian Americans.

There seems to be some heat wave making its way through the Indian semiconductor space on whether it is a wise decision to start a fab in India. On the upfront, it may sound like a very decent idea but one should look beyond the surface level and dwell deep into its actual value proposition. Personally, I feel that setting up a fab would be a good thing for India, but it should be done very thoughtfully. Fab is not equivalent to a start up where one can invest five-ten million dollars and then let go when it doesn't work out. We are talking about a billion-dollar state-of-the-art enterprise, something that would need more than a second thought.

Venturing from the chip design world into fab will not be an easy journey. As a country we have been excelling in designing chips, slowly scaling up the ladder to execute complex design architectures. The sudden hue and cry about fab has defocused our vision from the design arena, which has witnessed a good amount of achievement. There is enormous talent available for chip designing. We have to focus on leveraging this talent pool to get to the next level of chip designing conceptualizing the design architecture, the most difficult part in chip making. In my sense the industry leaders are tackling this with ease.

So would it be wise to deviate our focus from what we already are good at on to something that may not be our cup of tea? In other words, before we start to envision a fab in the country, we should ask ourselves: Are we well equipped to create one?

One option of creating a fab in the country would be to allow companies like AMD and Intel come in and set up their fabs here. This would in turn create an eco system of fabs, something not present in India. It is not only about money, land and water. Even if we solve all of those problems, we don't have enough people and enough semiconductor experts here. Building a fab is like dealing with a very unique technology, which calls for people with five to ten years of experience in this field. They would possess the know how of the concerned area.

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