Vietnam plans microchip plant debut

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The first microchip plant of Vietnam will be the first step in turning Ho Chi Minh City into a semiconductor hub in the country and the region, experts said at a recent conference.


Officials of the Saigon Industry Corporation, Ltd., which would implement the project, said that the plant, which would have the capacity to produce 300 million chips a year, would need an investment of approximately US$195 million.


Dang Ngoc Hung, deputy general director of the company, said the project aims to boost the chip design industry in Vietnam while meeting domestic demand for electronic chips.


The plant will become the first one in Vietnam producing chips on an industrial scale, Hung said as he presented the project to city authorities for approval.


He said the project would produce chips for smart cards such as SIM cards, ID cards, drivers' licenses, bus and subway cards, ATM cards and health insurance cards.


The project also targets making the radio-frequency identification chip as well as other chips to boost efficiency of home appliances and make them safer.


Hung said the project will use the 180 nanometer semiconductor processing technology. It is not choosing a more recent technology as the world demand for semiconductors made with the 180 nanometer technology is still big, mostly in Europe and China.


He said the plant will not be capable of making chips below the 100nm level.


In the future, the plant will try to use technologies under 130 nm level, he said.


He said Vietnam should not invest too much money too soon in this sector.


Bui Ngoc Chau, director of Switzerland-based Identic company, said at the conference that the semiconductor industry was very new in Vietnam and the country would not be able to compete with strong countries in the section.


Ngo Duc Hoang, director of Vietnam National University's Integrated Circuit Design Research and Education Center, said the plant will draw talented human resources to HCMC.


During the first phase, the plant would require nearly 500 engineers, workers and experts, and even to hire foreign experts.


Professor Dang Luong Mo, a consultant of Vietnam National University-HCMC, said that he strongly believed in the success of the project, suggested that the company should continue training more people for the job during developing and operating the plant.


Experts at the conference said that the government should boost semiconductor training at schools and institutes, meanwhile supporting small businesses produce chips of popular use.


Do Van Loc, head of the High Technology Department at the Ministry of Science and Technology, told Tuoi Tre on the sidelines of the meeting that the ministry has presented semiconductors proposed by the company to the government as a national product.


If approved, the semicondutors will benefit from tax preferences and enable investors to borrow up to 85 percent of the investment needed at low interest rates.


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