Vietnam just entering “chip” market

Published: 23/12/2008 05:00



VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam has designed a chip, using specialised foreign software products, but it doesn’t have a chip manufacturing industry yet, confirmed Dr. Tran Xuan Phuoc from the HCM City Hi-tech Park.

Dr. Tran Xuan Phuoc

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam has designed a chip, using specialised foreign software products, but it doesn’t have a chip manufacturing industry yet, confirmed Dr. Tran Xuan Phuoc from the HCM City Hi-tech Park.

Some newspapers recently reported that Vietnam successfully manufactured an 8-bit chip and Vietnam is able to join the international chip market. What do you think about this?

The above information is not so accurate. This chip was designed in Vietnam and manufactured abroad. The representative of the company that designed the 8-bit chip who announced the firm’s chip at a recent ceremony turned out to be my former student in Singapore. At present, Vietnam doesn’t have a chip manufacturing plant so it is accurate to say that Vietnam has just begun to join the chip-designing market.

However, some experts say it is rather late to be researching the 8-bit chip because this type of chip is not used much anymore. It can only be used for around ten years more in markets for embedded products, civil devices, hand-held equipment which don’t need to run at high speed. Is it true?

Though it is not new, 8-bit chips are still used in the world. There are some plants in Singapore still manufacturing 8-bit chips. This kind of chip will still exist for a long time in the future, serving automobile, civil, health and defence industries.

Chip designing is a new industry in Vietnam. Could you talk briefly about this industry so our readers can understand the basics?

Chip designing is not popular among normal people. In our daily life, many electronic products around us, from refrigerators to TV sets, radios, to aircraft, cars, ships and motorbikes, have chips inside.

A chip or a microprocessor incorporates most or all of the functions of a central processing unit on a single integrated circuit. A chip is designed by professional software products on computers. In the last few years, Vietnam has seen several companies arise that design chips for foreign clients.

What is the role of the microprocessor industry currently?

The chip industry has not formed in Vietnam yet and it doesn’t remarkably influence our economy but in developed countries, this industry contributes greatly to their GDP, up to 30-40% of GDP in Japan. It is also the impetus for the development of other industries because in developed countries, almost all industries are mechanised. Almost all equipment has chips inside.

I would say that a microprocessor is an indispensable component in current industries. Chip technology also has caused the appearance of new technological industries, for example technology for chemical, material industries, etc.

Microprocessor is still a new concept in Vietnam.

What is the microprocessor industry market in Vietnam like?

Big chip companies in the world design and manufacture chips themselves to protect their technology. It is wrong to say that there is a trend that chip companies design chips and hire others to manufacture them. Companies that follow this trend are small ones, which don’t have chip plants.

The microprocessor market in Vietnam only comprises chip design and it will pack at foreign clients’ requests. The need for chips in Vietnam is not great because not many chips are used for manufacturing equipment in Vietnam.

Does Vietnam have necessary conditions for designing chips?

Designing chips doesn’t require material and human resources as much as chip manufacturing. Some groups of enginers in Vietnam are designing chips for foreign companies and they use imported specialised software products to design chips.

It will take Vietnam a long time to create a contingent of people who have broad knowledge of chip design and manufacturing, not only know how to use chip-design software.

Vietnam doesn’t have a university that teaches microprocessor design so how will we develop human resources for this industry?

If Vietnam realises the value of the microprocessor industry, it should have a national programme to train personnel for this sector. Taiwan and South Korea carried out such programmes in the 1970s and now they are the leaders in chip technology. Another exmaple is China. They have invested in this industry for 20 years to reap success.

To understand chip technology, we have to manufacture chips, not only design chips.

Vietnam doesn’t have human resources for manufacturing chips and Vietnamese universities don’t have training courses on this field. However, some universities have launched chip-design programmes.

I think each university needs to have a group of experienced professors, who worked abroad for a long time, to organise human resource training for the chip industry. We also need to create a good environment to attract students to chip-design faculties.

Some foreign chip companies have entered Vietnam, such as Intel and Renesas. Some universities in HCM City have opened laboratories related to chip design. How will these moves influence Vietnam’s chip “market” and human resources for the chip industry?

The Intel plant in Vietnam only assembles and packs chip, it doesn’t design chips. Vietnam doesn’t have a chip market. The operation of Renesas and the National University in HCM City can draw people’s attention to the chip industry and can help increase human resources for the chip industry. Yet, creating human resources is not the job of the National University’s laboratory or Renesas, but the responsibility of universities and the government’s educational policies.

Le Quynh

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