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Singapore aims for cutting-edge technology development

Posted: 09 Jul 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Singapore electronics industry  wafer fab  microelectronics  R&D 

When Abu Dhabi's Advanced Technology Investment Co. took over Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Singapore's biggest chip foundry, and folded it into GlobalFoundries Inc., some saw it as a blow to Singapore's microelectronics industry.

But not Damian Chan, director of electronics for Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB). In a recent interview with EE Times, Chan said it doesn't matter to the EDB whether Singapore's wafer fabs are locally owned or under the control of companies headquartered in other countries, as long as they are building chips on the island nation.

"I think the acquisition of Chartered by GlobalFoundries was good because it will give GlobalFoundries access to a larger customer base and it also makes [the former Chartered fabs in Singapore] financially stronger," Chan said.

According to Chan, Singapore currently has 14 wafer fabs. Of these, four are 300mm facilities, while most of the rest are 200mm fabs, he said.

And Singapore's EDB would like to add more. According to Chan, Singapore has the talent pool to support more chip manufacturing facilities. The country wants to attract more fabless chip companies to set up operations there, too.

Chan said Singapore views itself as a hub for high-tech development and R&D. Many companies consider Singapore their headquarters in the all important market of Asia, he said.

EE Times' interview with Chan touched on a number of topics, including future directions for the island's electronics industry and competition with China and other countries for attracting tech investment. The following is an excerpted, edited version of the interview.

EE Times: Singapore has a very excellent research institute, the Institute of Microelectronics. With the sale of Chartered to Global Foundries, will that institute's research go in new directions like nanoelectronics, renewable energy, MEMS and printed electronics?
Damian Chan: First, to set the record straight, we are not de-emphasizing microelectronics. We are continuing to grow and gain market share over the past eight years [in semiconductor manufacturing relative to the rest of the world]. And we feel that we will continue to do so.

Microelectronics obviously is a pretty broad space. Rather than looking at leading-edge semiconductor processing technology, like 28- and then 22nm, they are looking at extending the number of applications. So they are focusing a lot on areas such as MEMS, silicon photonics and bioelectronics. They have strong capabilities in areas like packaging, which of course can be applied across these different areas.

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