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Infineon opens front-end power fab in Malaysia

Posted: 14 Sep 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Infineon Technologies? fab? power semiconductors? CoolMOS? IGBT?

Infineon Technologies AG formally opened on September 12 its first Asia-based front-end power fab in Kulim Hi-Tech Park in Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia. Employing about 1,700 people, the $1 billion facility, dubbed Power Fab, will have a maximum capacity of 100,000 wafer starts per month using 200mm wafer discs. It will produce power and logic chips for various industrial and automotive power applications.

Leading the ceremonial ribbon cutting were Seri Rafidah Aziz, Minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia; Chong Itt Chew, Kedah State Executive Councilor for Industry, Transportation, Trade, Consumer Affairs and Community Welfare; Infineon president and CEO Wolfgang Ziebart; and corporate senior VP and general manager for business group automotive, industrial and multimarket Reinhart Ploss.

Infineon regards the Kulim plant as a strategic investment into its future and "an opportunity to address the world's growing demand for more efficient power controls in industrial, computing and household appliances by enabling variable speed-controlled electric motors with higher performance." Rapidly increasing energy demand is one of the key challenges for growing economies in Asia. Technological solutions are thus needed to reduce power consumption and increase energy efficiency. The Kulim plant is committed to creating leading-edge products and using state-of-the-art technology to facilitate safe and efficient use of dwindling energy resources.

Completed in just 12 months, the new fab will produce power ICs that enable efficient energy management. Infineon's CoolMOS ICs allow completely new system approaches for power supplies, such as in servers, PCs and laptops, and for battery chargers in cellphones or PDAs. Its IGBT chips enable new drives in household appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioning systems, and other industrial applications. The chips' low inner resistance and switching behavior ensures the efficient use of electrical energy and the minimization of waste heat. Applications include engine control, ABS and airbags as well as lighting control, electrical window lift, seat adjustment and door locks.

Why Malaysia?
The German semiconductor giant chose Malaysia as an investment site for several reasons. In his keynote address, Ziebart cited the country's skilled manpower, competitive cost structure, superior infrastructure for high-tech manufacturing, economic and political stability, and the success of its Malacca facility as key motivations. Add to these its proximity to Asia's dynamic growth marketsChina and India.

"Thirty percent of Infineon's revenues come from Asia (excluding Japan), and we intend to keep on expanding our presence in the region through this plant," Ziebart said.

"The boundary conditions set were the best that we could ever experience," Ploss said in his opening remarks. The company believes such favorable conditions will enable it to compete more effectively in the global market.

Infineon's new Asia-based front-end power fab in Malaysia

A key investor in Malaysia in the last 30 years, Infineon has significantly aided in its transformation from an agricultural country to a technology-driven economy. According to Chong, the opening of Power Fab has taken the government a step closer to its vision of turning Kulim into the Science City of the future.

Encourage investments
In her keynote address, Aziz expressed hopes that the Kulim plant will encourage other multinational IC companies to set up wafer fabs in Malaysia. "Infineon's investment will impact not only Kedah, but other parts of Malaysia as well. It will reflect our ability to host high-tech projects like this," she said.

The Malaysian official reiterated government's promise "to facilitate, not frustrate" by ensuring that public offices at all levels will help facilitate the success of private investment, both local and foreign. Chong, for his part, pledged business-friendly policies and a business environment conducive to growth and success.

"Considering the results achieved so far, I am confident that Infineon Kulim will be an important chapter in Infineon's success story in Asia," Ziebart enthused.

- Regina Gepte
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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