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|4. Bien Nguyen Co., LTD.|
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Twenty to thirty years ago, some Asian economies such as Taiwan and South Korea began making investments to develop their electronic chip industry, and they now can reap fruits from the investments. Meanwhile, though Vietnam’s semi-conductor industry has been encouraged to develop since 1970, it still cannot manufacture chips of its own.
Professor Dang Luong Mo, technology advisor to the HCM City National University, said that right after the country’s unification, the government of Vietnam began paying attention to developing the semi-conductor industry. Two friends of his, Dr Luong Bach Van and Dr Nguyen Binh, Viet Kieu in France, returned to Vietnam in 1975 to start building up a production line on making semi-conducting components. However, the job was not successful.
Lagging behind by two generations
Twenty years ago, returning from Japan, Professor Dang Luong Mo realized that both the government and scientists were trying to develop Vietnam’s semi-conducting industry. The professor joined forces with the HCM City National University to build up a foundation for the industry, setting up laboratories at the HCM City University of Technology, the IC Design Research & Education Center (ICDREC) and building up the post-university training program on microelectronics.
The first product of ICDREC, an 8 bit chip, named SigmaK3, marked the initial achievement in the industry. Other chips were developed later and then produced on a trial basis before being mass produced to serve the production of electric household appliances, healthcare, transportion and energy saving technology.
Looking back at the 20-year development period, Professor Mo said that Vietnam’s chip designing industry has been lagging other countries by two generations. The current tendency now in the world is to manufacture the chips as small as possible. The most modern technology allows manufacturing of chips measuring 65 nanomet, while Vietnam can only produce chips measuring 130 nanomets. He said that Vietnam will only be able manufacture chips measuring 90 nanomets after 3-5 years.
However, experts say they are still optimistic about the development of the electronic chip industry, because the industry is considered one of the priority development programs.. Vu Tien Loc, Director of the High Technology Department under the Ministry of Science and Technology told Thoi bao Vi Tinh Saigon that for the time to come the Government has two development programs,under which manufacturing chips is listed as one of the top priority tasks.
The biggest problem lies in the workforce
Ngo Duc Hoang, Director of ICDREC, said that in 1996-1997, some small scale projects on electronic chip design were started by a few universities. However, the potentials of the industry have only been noticed by some since Intel decided to invest in Vietnam. Consquently, at the same time, a limitation in the workforce has come to light.
Professor Mo thinks that it is good news that a giant company such as Intel makes investments in Vietnam. However, he noted that what Intel plans to do in Vietnam are only simple tasks which do not require high technologies. Mo said that one of the problems is the limited qualifications of the domestic workforce.
Pham Ba Tuan, Deputy Chair of Swiss EM Microelectronic, said that in the last 10 years, international groups come to Vietnam to make investment just because of the cheap labor force and low investment expenses. The groups always have to think carefully before making heavy investment. They need the workers with high qualifications and high foreign language skills, while Vietnam still cannot satisfy the requirements. Only big enterprises can cover expenses to retrain university students. While medium enterprises would rather employ experienced worker,.Vietnam does not have many qualified workers.
Source: Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon
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