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Filipino microchip design engineers may train in Taiwan

Posted:? Jun 20, 2008 3:38 PM


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Filipino microchip design engineers may train in Taiwan


The Manila Economic and Cultural Office aims to give the Philippines’ nascent IC design sector a push by giving local microchip design engineers the opportunity to train at Taiwan’s leading research and development centers, MECO Managing Director and Resident Representative Antonio Basilio said.

For the Philippines to speed up its IC research and development capabilities and gain a foothold in the global supply chain for electronics, the country needs to further improve its human resources, Basilio said in a statement.

"We have to bring our most promising IC designers to Taiwan, and get them trained at Taiwan’s premier technology centers. Ideally, we would also want to bring in Taiwanese experts to the Philippines who would provide the necessary training for our young crop of IC design engineers," said Basilio.

MECO in fact hopes to clinch a long-term training program with Taiwan’s world-class R&D hubs this year. According to MECO director for Commercial Affairs, Maria Bernardita Angara-Mathay, Philippine Trade and Industry Senior Undersecretary Thomas Aquino, who is scheduled to fly to Taiwan on June 13, will be putting the on-the-job training component in the Philippines’ planned Microelectronics Design Center on the agenda during his meetings with Taiwan officials this month.

Basilio said while the Philippines is already recognized as a key player when it comes to IC packaging and assembly, it, however, needs to shift gears and climb up the value chain. "To do that, we need to have IC design capabilities. If we possess that, plum investments will follow. We could go after potentially lucrative strategic partnerships with Taiwan’s top semiconductor companies."

In retrospect, Taiwan and the Philippines already tried such a partnership in 2005. With the assistance of MECO and the Department of Trade and Industry, Taiwan sent two instructors to hold a training course in chip design layout in Manila. A total of 18 local engineers attended, including students from the University of the Philippines and Ateneo.

According to MECO, the Taiwanese instructors were quite impressed with the performance of the Filipino chip design engineers, noting that the latter could "easily pick up skills and learn fast — very fast."

The Philippines produces thousands of engineers annually, but only a "very small portion" of this talent pool is actually being tapped by the IC industry. The country also boasts 97 Centers of Excellence, and two research and development facilities.

In addition to clinching a training program with Taiwan ‘s R&D centers, MECO is also going after "flagship" accounts disclosed Angara-Mathay.

"In the field of electronics, we’d really go after repeat accounts, and they are the 20 biggest semiconductor companies in Taiwan . It’s a very ambitious plan," she said as she cited that out of the 20 companies on MECO’s list, two — Compal and Winbond — had already held meetings with MECO," she said.

One of the key requirements of these potential investment locators is the availability of IC design engineers according to Angara-Mathay. Further, she said a large pool of IC design talents is also needed for the Philippines to establish its Microelectronics Design Center . The government must also allocate at least US$ 1 million for the purchase of the planned center’s electronic design automation (EDA) tools, she cited.

"The project would require or involve the training of a least 100 microchip design engineers a year. We’ve thought of this as early as three years back. When it comes to IC testing and assembly, we rate an ‘8;’ but design, which accounts for about 80 percent of the gross value of the product in that sector, (is really where the money is)," said Angara-Mathay.

Basilio said that Taiwan ‘s top contract wafer foundries — Taiwan Semiconductor and UMC — could also set up their chip design services centers or "fabless" foundries in the Philippines . Semiconductor companies such as Philips, Fuji and Fastech have already established their operations in the province of Laguna , making the province the "Silicon Valley of the Philippines ." (BCM)

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Reply:Filipino microchip design engineers may train in Taiwan

Posted:? Jun 20, 2008 3:40 PM


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Manila says in talks with Samsung on chip plant

First Posted 14:03:00 06/20/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., the world's largest maker of memory chips, is in talks about building a manufacturing plant in the Philippines, a senior government official said on Friday.
"There was encouraging progress in the talks with the group," Trade Secretary Peter Favila told Reuters.
He said officials of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC), which oversees an industrial zone in a former US military base north of Manila, have been in talks with Samsung for some time.
Asked to confirm local newspaper reports that $1 billion was the size of the possible Samsung investment, Favila said: "It's possible, given the kind of activity that they will be undertaking."
CDC president Liberato Laus and other top officials are currently in Korea for further talks with Samsung, Laus' office said.
Samsung Electronics had no immediate comment. The company said in March it was conducting a study in Southeast Asia, including the Philippines, to possibly build an electronics plant.
Electronics, largely assembled from imported parts, account for over 50 percent of export revenues in the Philippines, which wants to expand its role as a hub for electronics firms seeking low-cost manufacturing bases.
Texas Instruments, the world's top mobile phone chip maker, has already started construction on a $1 billion semiconductor plant in the Clark industrial zone.
Local newspapers said an area in Clark had already been reserved for the Samsung project, which would be used for the design and manufacture of integrated circuits or chips, which are found in almost all modern electrical equipment, including microprocessors, audio and video equipment, and cars.
Samsung already operates an optical disk drive manufacturing plant south of Manila. It also has a unit, Samsung Electro-Mechanics Philippines Corp., which manufactures multi-layer capacitor thick film chip resistors.
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