Thursday 20 Jun 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (April 22): The Selangor state government, through its digital economy arm the Selangor Information Technology and Digital Economy Corp (Sidec), will lead the establishment of an integrated circuit (IC) design hub in Puchong, touted to be the largest in Southeast Asia.

The project — in collaboration with the federal government, international semiconductor firms and venture capitalists — is a strategic move to position Malaysia as a potential powerhouse in the global IC design industry.

Sidec chief executive officer Yong Kai Ping said Malaysia must quickly seize opportunities in chip design to move up the semiconductor value chain as competition intensifies.

"The IC Design Park will elevate Malaysia closer to the front-end IC design segment from the back-end process of packaging and testing," he said in a statement on Monday.

The proposed IC Design Park, poised to begin operations by July 2024, has already secured the commitment of four partner companies, including ARM Ltd, Phison Malaysia, SkyeChip Sdn Bhd and Shenzhen Semiconductor Industry Association.

ARM, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, is a notable name in the global semiconductor industry as it specialises in providing intellectual property (IP) cores and related technologies for processors. It licenses its designs to over 1,000 global partners like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung.

Phison Malaysia, established in 2000 by Datuk Pua Khein-Seng, who is famous for inventing the world’s first single-chip USB flash drive or pen drive, is the world's largest independent provider of NAND Flash controllers and comprehensive storage solutions. The company plays a critical role in supplying essential technology for data storage across both consumer and enterprise-level products, according to Sidec.

SkyeChip, founded in 2019, specialises in the development of proprietary silicon IP and is already making a name for itself in artificial intelligence and high-performance computing IC solutions.

The Shenzhen Semiconductor Industry Association, meanwhile, boasts a membership of 587 semiconductor companies operating in China. It offers a comprehensive suite of support services to the semiconductor industry's ecosystem such as research institutions and universities, extensive supply chain management, financial services and intellectual property management.

Phison to invest RM100 million to set up start-up company in Malaysia

Separately, Pua announced that the Taiwan-based NAND storage solutions provider Phison Electronics Corp is investing RM100 million to set up a start-up company called MaiStorage in Selangor, and plans to move over RM1 billion worth of matured technology back to his homeland.

Two of Phison’s five co-founders, including Pua, are from Malaysia.

Pua said Phison will collaborate with Mimos Bhd to grow Malaysia’s technology industry, hoping to groom 300-500 NAND storage talents within 18 months, creating high-paying jobs for the country.

“We are willing to offer higher-than-industry salaries to these underappreciated talents, more than RM6,000 a month for example, and fresh graduate’s starting pay will be RM8,000 with additional bonus,” he was reported as saying at the KL20 Summit 2024 on Monday.

Earlier on the same day, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in his keynote address at the KL20 Summit 2024 unveiled the plan to build the largest IC design park in Southeast Asia by Sidec, with ARM licensing its technology to the IC design park.

The proposed IC design park, Anwar said, is part of Malaysia's efforts to move beyond backend chip assembly and testing and into high-value front-end design work.

At the summit, Anwar, together with Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli, Digital Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang, and Federal Territories Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, witnessed the signing of a letter of intent for the establishment of the IC Design Park signed by Sidec's Yong, ARM president of Asean CK Tseng, Phison's founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Pua, SkyeChip CEO SK Fong, and Shenzhen Semiconductor Industry Association president Zhou Shengming.  

The IC Design Park will be equipped with common public service tools and facilities, including affordable electronic design automation (EDA) tools, servers, intellectual property (IP), multi-project wafer (MPW) services and training programmes.

The primary goal of the park is to promote original design manufacturing (ODM), encouraging local involvement in product design, prototyping, and production — shifting from "Made in Malaysia" to "Made by Malaysia".

Edited ByTan Choe Choe
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