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Thursday, 15 March 2012

Phison’s silicon wafer plan; Mandarin, Hokkien, the main lure

Pua: ‘The assembly of the finished flash memory products would be outsourced to small and medium enterprises in the country.’

Phison’s silicon wafer plan  

Its partner Silterra may produce essential components in Kulim

GEORGE TOWN: Phison Electronics Corp's partner Silterra Malaysia Sdn Bhd may undertake the production of silicon wafer in Kulim Hi-Tech Park for the flash memory chips to be developed and designed in Penang.

Phison chairman and chief executive officer Pua Khein-Seng told StarBiz that Silterra was now studying the feasibility of manufacturing the silicon wafer for the Phison's unit, which would be established in Penang in three to six months.

“The unit will undertake the development and design of flash memory applications and solution products. Our other partner, Index Diversified Sdn Bhd, will distribute and market them in the local and South-East Asia markets,” he said.

“The assembly of the finished flash memory products would be outsourced to small and medium enterprises in the country. We will decide on the volume of units to be produced six months later,” he added.

Pua also said that the investment of US$1mil to US$3mil would be for the salaries of engineers and purchasing the necessary equipment.

Also present were Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Silterra chief executive officer Dr Kamarulzaman Mohamed Zin, and Silterra Sales and Marketing (L) Ltd, Taiwan Branch senior vice-president Lai Yit Loong.

Lai said the flash memory product, which could be in the form secure-digital and smart cards, would be used in tablets, ultrabooks.

“The flash memory products will also be targeted for use in mobile payment platform and in video recorders for automobiles,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lim said the importance of Phison's investment was that it would lead to talent and technology transfer to Penang.

“The Phison unit will likely be located on the island, and the state government will provide the necessary assistance for the group to establish its presence here,” Lim added.

Phison Electronics Corp was established in November 2000 at Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Starting with the world's first single-chip USB flash drive IC, Phison is now a market leader in NAND Flash controllers and applications including USB, SD, eMMC, PATA and SATA products.

In 2010, the company shipped over 500 million controllers worldwide and topped US$1bil in sales revenue.

Phison also offers system and OEM services for major retail brand names. Founded in November 1995 as Wafer Technology Malaysia Sdn Bhd and renamed as Silterra Malaysia Sdn Bhd in December 1999, the company offers complementary metalic oxide semiconductor design and a broad range of fabrication processes for integrated chips in advanced logic, mixed signal and radio frequency and high voltage applications.

The principal investor of Silterra is Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

  Mandarin; Hokkien, the main lure

GEORGE TOWN: The Hokkien connection has once again put Penang in the limelight, albeit, this time on a positive note.

Taiwan-based Phison Engineering Corp has chosen to set up its first Malaysian branch in the state this year because the Hokkien dialect is widely used here.

According to its chairman and chief executive officer Pua Khein-Seng, who was raised in Sekinchan, Selangor, the Mandarin and Hokkien dialects were among the reasons for setting up their Malaysian unit in Penang.

Given a choice, the 38-year-old Malaysian said he would have chosen Kuala Lumpur as it was nearer to his hometown. “However, the move will not be viable as my working team from Taiwan only speaks Mandarin and Minnan (which is similar to Hokkien).

“I have a lot of engineers, some of them Malaysians, who do not have a strong command of English or Bahasa Malaysia as they have been based in Taiwan for far too long. They will not be able to survive in Kuala Lumpur.

“It is better for them to be here as the Chinese community here speaks Mandarin and Minnan,” he said during a question-and-answer session during his talk on “Driven to Success Road to Build a $1billion Company”.

Just last month, the Hokkien connection put Penang in the limelight when police busted a Taiwanese-led international Internet syndicate which had chosen the island as its base so that its members could blend in.

Pua said another plus point was the many well-trained engineers and industry players available here. “Here, materials are easily available from the semiconductor and electronics companies.”

Pua, who describes Malaysia as his motherland and Taiwan as his second home, is the inventor of the pen drive when he was only 27.

Phison was set up in November 2000 and within six months Pua had come up with the invention.

Related post:
 Taiwan's Phison IC design project, a 'brain gain' for Malaysia

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