Intel is the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors and central processing units.
Manufacturing constraints across certain geographies and the government’s Make-in-India initiative have helped make the country a top destination for the company, Steven Long, corporate vice president, and general manager of Asia Pacific and Japan, Intel Corporation told ET.
“We are seeing design and manufacturing opportunities for our partners here in India. Governance initiatives like Make-in-India are driving design opportunities from historical regions in Taiwan, or China or in other parts of Southeast Asia to India. We see a big opportunity here,” Long said.
Intel is also working with Indian telecom operators on 4G and 5G technology to offer design solutions like virtualised radio access network (V-RAN) and Open RAN (O-RAN) that were largely addressed by telecom solution providers like Nokia and Ericsson.
“Intel is monetising work with all three carriers in India and across Asia. What excites me about Indian carriers is that there’s some design work that they are doing that historically would have been done by a Nokia, or Ericsson, or even some Taiwanese vendors… We are actually helping these companies export and grow their capabilities,” he added.
Intel said in February that it would acquire and merge Israeli chipmaker Tower to form a “fully integrated foundry business” but the two companies would operate independently until the $5.4 billion deal closes, which is expected to close early next year.
The acquisition would also challenge the reach of Taiwanese major TSMC which holds over 53% of the global semiconductor market. Tower and Gulf-based Next Orbit Ventures are part of the ISMC Analog consortium that is seeking capital incentives from the government to set up fabrication units in the country.
“Historically, Intel has had factories, obviously, semiconductor factories to manufacture products. Now, more customers want to have their own design capabilities they want us to customise. In that sense, Tower becomes interesting for us, because they have specialty nodes and older generation nodes that allow us to play in parts of the market, where we haven’t in the past,” Long said.
The ISMC consortium has proposed to manufacture chips of 65 nanometre (nm), an older technology node with varied applications from consumer electronics to automotive to power devices segments, which have a booming market in India.
Once completed, it is expected that Intel’s year-old foundry division would absorb the new business.
Last month, Intel Foundry president Randhir Thakur said he would step down from his role by the end of January.
“The Tower acquisition puts us in a situation to bring in both leadership as well as process and methodology. Between Tower acquisition and Randhir’s exit, I know Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is actively looking for the right leader,” said Long.