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Intel has no plans to build semiconductor fab; is bullish on AI: Intel India MD

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Santhosh Viswanathan

Santhosh Viswanathan

New Delhi: Computer chip maker Intel has no plans to set up a semiconductor plant or any type of manufacturing unit in the country at present, the company's India business head Santhosh Viswanathan said on Friday.

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Viswanathan, Vice President and Managing Director of Intel, India Region, said that the company continues to engage in India's electronic manufacturing sector as the country has potential to create a balanced supply chain that the world needs.

"At this point in time, we don't have any plans to go back and do a fab or go back to build any manufacturing capacity in India at this stage. It doesn't mean the engagement stops if we don't have a plan. It is about how you go back and build that infrastructure that can really set it up for years ahead," he told reporters in an online interaction.

Viswanathan said Intel has had its design centre in India for more than three decades and has invested over USD 9 billion in the facility.

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"World needs a balanced supply chain. You cannot have 80 per cent of servers being made in one place and 90 per cent of all laptops made in one place. I think that's the key change where India can really step and help build a balanced electronics supply chain for the world," he said.

When asked about the artificial intelligence momentum and the company's engagement in the India market for the next generation technology, Viswanathan said it is a very exciting moment and Intel is bullish on it with the company's Xeon processors and Gaudi AI chips.

"AI is not one size that fits all. We are working with local ISV (independent software vendors), local developers. All companies will launch AI PCs in India. You will see that coming across the market," he said.

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At present demand for graphics processing unit (GPU) chips is on boom and Intel's competitor Nvidia leads the segment with around 88 per cent market share.

Intel is also setting up capacities to catch up in the AI chipset domain.

"AI does not just require big GPUs to solve the problem. There are a lot of different models that can run on Xeon. Innovation at scale can happen with Xeon. We are working with several large customers. Gaudi 2 (Intel's AI chip) is available, Gaudi3 comes in the second half. You will see some of those products coming into India through these customers (OEMs that use Intel processors) as well," Viswanathan said.

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He said that Intel is offering solutions like Xeon to implement large language models at lower cost.

"LLM at lower TCO (total cost of ownership) there is an offering from Intel. Xeon is all around. We are making Xeon even better by optimising it for AI workload, 10-20 billion parameters on Xeon itself, not just the training part but also inferencing that happens at a lower latency," Viswanathan said.

He said India has about 20 per cent of world's data sets that can be used for AI models training.

"We are very frugal. 16 or 20 per cent of word's AI talent is in India. We kind of lead the world and not follow in this path. That's the another piece that makes me bullish about India. For me India is most exciting. AI is not just artificial intelligence, it is also amazing in India. No other country has digital infrastructure at the scale that we have. India stack is a game changer," Viswanathan said.

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