Seema Singh

CO-FOUNDER AND EDITOR

Seema has over two decades of experience in journalism. Before starting The Ken, Seema wrote “Myth Breaker: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and the Story of Indian Biotech”, published by HarperCollins in May 2016. Prior to that, she was a senior editor and bureau chief for Bangalore with Forbes India, and before that she wrote for Mint. Seema has written for numerous international publications like IEEE-Spectrum, New Scientist, Cell and Newsweek. Seema is a Knight Science Journalism Fellow from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a MacArthur Foundation Research Grantee.

101 Articles published

Top Comments by Seema Singh

TSMC, Intel, Samsung unlikely to chip in, India could use DIY in semicon

Thanks, Vinutaa. It's beyond the scope of this comment section to give you a lowdown on how the industry was built globally. Google is your friend there :) As for the initial cost, it's very project specific, depends on external factors like land, water, electricity, presence or absence of ancillary businesses like assembly, testing, packaging, etc. Countries like Vietnam and Malaysia are doing a good job there. That said, Gallium Nitride chips, a new material which is at a stage where silicon was 30-40 years ago, can be built in fabs that'd cost $200-300M. It's still niche, but there are people doing this. Even refurbished silicon chip plants can be set up for older nodes in this cost range, provided someone wants to rough it out and has figured some market segments.

Seema Singh

TSMC, Intel, Samsung unlikely to chip in, India could use DIY in semicon

You are right, Rakesh. Unfortunately, since 2000, when India first began wooing chip companies, we've only chased big-ticket fab projects, and never really put down a plan to build ancillary businesses. Big fabs are political decisions and attention-catching, headline-making things. Hence all political administrations fall for it. Building the ecosystem is hard work - requires planning, money, and procurement revamp. Anyhow, right now there is some momentum. IESA is taking upon itself the ATMP roadmap, the R&D foundry guys want to do the chip roadmap, and there's an accelerator for fabless startups called SFAL. Let's hope we get somewhere :)

Seema Singh

TSMC, Intel, Samsung unlikely to chip in, India could use DIY in semicon

Sorry about the typo, Akshit. It was corrected as soon as you pointed out. For a long time, standard chips worked at 5V. Then as the chip size shrank, voltage also reduced. I think for some chips, it's down to 1.8V. But in power electronics, large transistors work fine because they have to carry heavy power. Though it still ends at 30-40V. What Gupta (an IIT-D alum) is suggesting is that India should do process engineering and come up with high voltage semicon at older nodes (like 65nm or 180 nm). This has great applicability in electric vehicle infrastructure.

Seema Singh

Nokia, Ericsson, Airtel, and the big boys club resisting India’s 5Gi

Ranjit, Jio has been slightly ahead of Airtel and other Indian telcos in setting up a crack team for in-house telecoms product development. We have written about it -- https://the-ken.com/story/reliance-jios-5g-push-to-be-indias-answer-to-huawei/?searchTerm=Jio%205G While it may not have all the products or even a good percentage of it ready now that 5G trials have begun— it will likely add Samsung's and other vendors' 5G gear— but the fact that it is building them in-house gives it a good bargaining power. Plus, it can gradually decrease dependence on global vendors going forward. Airtel seems to have a 5G strategy too - https://the-ken.com/story/build-or-assemble-bharti-jio-take-different-paths-to-5g-finish-line/?searchTerm=Airtel%205G

Seema Singh

Nokia, Ericsson, Airtel, and the big boys club resisting India’s 5Gi

Mohit, first off, there's always standards fight is common in electrical and electronics fields because things really need to work seamless across the world and a lot is at stake in products. But in telecoms it's extreme. Take for example batteries. There are global standards and several national or continental (EU) standards. There's also a dominating country in China. But if anyone has expertise today, they can design a new battery without stepping on too many toes.

Seema Singh

Nokia, Ericsson, Airtel, and the big boys club resisting India’s 5Gi

Deepak, India can very well mandate support for 5Gi. That's what China did with TS-SCDMA. But then the device makers would find the market restricted, unless some other countries take it up too, and manufacturers may not pay as much attention to upgrades as desired. Over time the quality would suffer. And because there is virtually no local telecom product ecosystem, you'll end up depending on the suppliers. It's certainly about IP. I am told suppliers have admitted this in private that they "don't want to make the same mistake they made in China by allowing the local ecosystem to develop". In India, smaller companies don't even have the big support that Chinese govt gives to its local companies. So it's a chicken and egg problem at one level- somehow India has to break into that league of telecom product development. Look at China, even newbie handset makers like Oppo and Vivo have more telecom or 5G patents than Indian companies or groups.

Seema Singh

Nokia, Ericsson, Airtel, and the big boys club resisting India’s 5Gi

Barrett is mixing two issues here. 1) 5Gi with full features is not getting past the 3GPP gate. That's getting delayed. Unless the full set of specs are cleared officially, few equipment or handset makers will take the initiative to incorporate 5Gi & participate in a trial. But if vendors can avoid some extra work for the time being, they will avoid, because 5Gi is not mandatory. 3GPP will keep asking for more studies and push the approval from Release 16 to 17 to 18. Or forever. 2) The Indian team will conduct a field trial because they have prepared a test bed with a 3-yr grant of Rs 224 cr from the Ministry of IT. Technically, the field trial of 5Gi can happen with any operator. There is no limitation. But there are some differences - the handsets today support 5G but not 5Gi. The base stations need some tweak too. Therefore, the Indian team at IIT-H has incubated a company and they are developing base stations themselves.

Seema Singh

Stories by Seema Singh