Intel is evaluating India as a possible location for a new chip manufacturing facility, according to the company's chief executive officer, Craig Barrett.
Intel, in Santa Clara, California, is one of only two multinational semiconductor companies to announce that it is evaluating setting up a fab in India.
The other, Cypress Semiconductor, in San Jose, California, announced earlier this year that it was considering setting up a facility to manufacture solar cells in India.
Intel already does key semiconductor design work in the country at a facility in Bangalore. Besides doing work on Intel's Centrino mobile platform, the design center is also designing a new 32-bit microprocessor for the enterprise market, which is a follow-on processor to the Xeon processor. During his visit to the facility, Barrett was expected to announce plans to expand this facility.
Although a number of multinational semiconductor companies, such as Texas Instruments and Broadcom, have chip design facilities in India, they have been reluctant to set up fabs in India, in part because of the country's poor infrastructure.
The Very Large Scale Integrated (VLSI) fabs already in the country are run by government-owned companies, and use outdated technologies and sub-optimal production scales. Semiconductor Complex (SCL) in Chandigarh, for example, has a 6-inch wafer fabrication facility, capable of processing wafers in 0.8 micron technology. These facilities are primarily used by these companies for pilot production runs of chips they design.
As part of Barrett's two-day visit to India, officials from Intel and the country's ministry of communications and information technology have also signed an agreement to jointly develop computing platforms aimed at taking information technology to rural areas.
The Indian government and Intel will work on making broadband wireless technologies affordable and viable as a "last mile" option for rural service delivery, it was announced in a joint statement.
Furthermore, Intel and the Indian government are setting up an Open Source Resource Centre to provide technical assistance and support to Indian government projects on open source platforms.
Intel will assist in building expertise in VLSI circuits design through curriculum design, faculty development workshops and research collaborations.