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Chief Executive Officer of SMD Semiconductor, Shariman Jamil (right) and Adelene Teo, Economic Adviser of the Bilateral Diplomacy Team of the British High Commission, Kuala Lumpur when contacted by TVS via online meeting platform in the United Kingdom, on Tuesday

Compound Semiconductor in sight for Sarawak

BySheera Abang Mansor

KUCHING, Dec 6: Sarawak semiconductor industry is keen to embark on compound semiconductor to position itself as one of the world’s niche clusters in the industry, develop more talent and attract high-value investment.

Chief Executive Officer of SMD Semiconductor Shariman Jamil said Sarawak could emulate the semiconductor industry in the United Kingdom (UK) in driving its semiconductor strategy.

“Sarawak has an existing capacity or player in silicon foundry through X-FAB, which operates at Samajaya High Tech Park Kuching; leveraging this strength, Sarawak can embark on Compound Semiconductor such as GaAn on Silicon, Silicon Carbide and Graphene on Silicon, the future champion technology for EV, Hydrogen, 5G and 6G, Space and many others,” he said.

According to Shariman, compound semiconductors can offer far superior performance compared to silicon, which makes it the next booming industry in semiconductor.

He pointed out that when the UK embarked on semiconductors more than 20 years ago, the UK government chose to invest in research and development (R&D) and facilities for compound semiconductors like Gallium Nitride GaAn and Silicon Carbide SIC, which have superior properties to mainstream Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS).

“The understanding behind this strategy for UK was they realise the bottleneck of all future semiconductor technologies, be it high-voltage EV or Hydrogen applications, high-speed telecommunication such as 5G and 6G, and many others depend on the performance of a single device, i.e. transistor; fast transistor enable 5G and 6G, high-voltage switching transistor enable EV and similar applications, and so on,” he said.

He was contacted by TVS reporter on Tuesday, in regards to the Commonwealth delegation’s visit to established semiconductor facilities in UK, which was held beginning November 27th to December 5th.

On the delegation’s visit, Adelene Teo, Economic Advisor Bilateral Diplomacy Team Of British High Commission Kuala Lumpur said the visit has a general aim of show casing the UK’s semiconductor capabilities and latest innovations, match common policy and commercial interests and advance R&D collaborations.

The outcome of this collaboration, she said, should support both the UK and Malaysia’s semiconductor development and ambitions further.

“UK and Malaysia’s expertise are complementary.

“Malaysia has mass production know-how, including a mature precision engineering industry that is capable of developing sophisticated automation machines, to scale and commercialise the UK’s innovation and design.

“However, the UK ecosystem is little known in Malaysia – and vice versa,” she said adding that from these initiatives, both the UK and Malaysian participants welcomed bilateral exchanges on best practices, latest technological applications, the practicalities of innovations and supportive policies, particularly in the areas of R&D, chip design, compound semiconductors and advanced test and packaging.

At the same time, Shariman, when commenting on both semiconductor industries said, compared to Malaysia, the UK has a vibrant semiconductor ecosystem whereby its government invested a lot in research and development (R&D) and facilities to position itself in high-value R&D and chip design under the UK semiconductor strategy.

While Malaysia’s semiconductors supply chain, he said, has always been concentrated on the outsourced assembly and test (OSAT) and electronic manufacturing services (EMS).

Therefore, he recommended the Sarawak’s semiconductor industry to move up the value chain into R&D and chip design through a supportive, collaborative framework between government, academic or research institutions and industry.

“In this regard, everyone must work together to ensure Malaysia’s New Industrial Masterplan NIMP2030 can be materialised and with the government providing clear direction, i.e., a Three-feet (3-ft) implementation strategy and sufficient funding, while universities proactively and progressively skewing their outcomes to meet the industry requirements and standards.

“This requires a trapartheid commitment, the government, the universities, academic research and also the industries. These three elements must come together,” he said.

Shariman also revealed that SMD Semiconductor is setting the target of producing 500 semiconductor professionals by the year 2030 to supply trained graduates to the industry. – TVS

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