KUALA LUMPUR: Two of the leading homegrown high technology companies, Mimos Bhd and SilTerra Malaysia Sdn Bhd, entered into a smart partnership on Monday to produce power management integrated circuit (PowerMos) wafers for SilTerra’s global market. Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir called it “a new beginning where Malaysian-owned companies form smart partnerships to help achieve the government’s desire for high knowledge-intensive collaborations which ultimately lead to boosting the nation’s competitiveness.”
PowerMos wafers are critical in an ever more connected world where digital devices are constantly connected to the Internet or mobile networks to source for information. PowerMos wafers help improve the power efficiency of digital devices.
Unknown to Malaysians, SilTerra, is already one of the top 20 foundries in the world in terms of revenue. A 2010 Gartner report on the top foundries in the world by revenue had SilTerra at the 17th spot with US$180 million (RM543.6 million). The 2011 report is still being finalised. A key driver of this revenue comes from display drivers where SilTerra has captured an estimated 21% of the global market for display drivers. According to SilTerra CEO Dr Kamarulzaman Mohamed Zin, this figure is based on Silterra’s customer estimates. Display drivers are chips that run the screens of smartphones and tablets and are appearing in an increasing number of other consumer digital devices. Gartner predicts that smartphone sales will triple to 492 million units by 2012 from 139 million in 2008. The computer market will expand to 443 million units from 290 million over the same period.
Kamarulzaman said SilTerra has been developing PowerMos technologies for a while but has not had the production capacity in meaningful volumes to produce the wafers in-house.
“We have been running our fab at full or near to full capacity [40,000 wafers a month] for the past three years with customer orders and have been exploring several fabs around the region, including in China and Japan for us to tranfer our process technology and get the PowerMos wafers produced,” said Kamarulzaman, adding that he is happy to do it with Mimos, both for logistical reasons and economic ones.
He described this strategy of using a second party’s production facilities as “asset-light” model which saves SilTerra hundreds of millions in capex versus expanding its own manufacturing. A Taiwanese semiconductor online publication has also reported that SilTerra has tied up with a Taiwanese DRAM foundry, ProMos, to utilise its manufacturing facilities too.
Meanwhile, Abd Aziz Kadir, chief operations officer of Mimos, hailed the collaboration as one that will give it a “secret recipe” to make market-relevant products. “We have been focusing on R&D all this while and have top-class equipment that is as good as any world class manufacturing facility in the PowerMos space. Our collaboration with SilTerra helps us meet market demand as they have more process integration engineers who understand customer requirements and translate that to a manufacturing recipe which we will then take and convert into PowerMos wafers.”
SilTerra is saddled with a RM1.8 billion sukuk bond and though it has been running at an Ebidta positive rate for the past three years, its main shareholder, Khazanah Nasional Bhd has been looking at a strategic partner which can take up part of its stake.
About SilTerra Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.
SilTerra Malaysia Sdn Bhd is a semiconductor wafer foundry offering major fabrication and design support services in CMOS logic, High-Voltage, Mixed-signal, RF and MEMS technologies down to 90 nanometer feature size. SilTerra's wafer fab has a design-in capacity of 40,000 eight-inch wafers per month and currently serves customers in US, Taiwan, Korea and
Environmentally vigilant, SilTerra delivers award winning, world-class performance to its customers seeking flexible capacity, custom technolgies, competitive advantages and around the clock customer support. SilTerra is ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001 certified. Starting commercial production in 2001, the company's headquarters and factory are located in Malaysia's Kulim High-Tech Park, with sales and marketing offices in San Jose(California) and Hsinchu(Taiwan).