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This view was shared by experts at a recent round-table discussion between the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and the Research and Training Centre for Chip Design (RTCCD) under Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City.
Experts and microchip makers say microchip manufacturing plays an important role in helping Vietnam master the microchip design technology and both software and hardware in information security. Therefore, the focus will be on meeting domestic demand for trade liberalization and ensuring national defence and security.
Ngo Duc Hoang, RTCCD director says Vietnam can design microchip products, but has yet to import materials for microchip manufacturing. So far, the MoST has ordered a total of 350,000 microchips for the manufacturing of road detection systems.
A microchip is priced from $4-5 in foreign markets, but the price will be less than $1 per unit for mass production of 150,000 microchips domestically, and half of that for around 1 million units.
The fact is that foreign businesses are able to design and make this kind of microchip. Domestic chip products are not much different from imported ones but the most important factor is related to information security, Hoang argues.
Recently, Vietnam has spent large amounts of money importing microchips. However, its current microchip industry is still focused on designing rather than manufacturing. To develop the microchip industry, Hoang says, it is essential to train high-skilled human resources, build microchip designing manufacturing facilities, and develop application providers for users.
The Saigon Industry Corporation has already submitted a microchip manufacturing project worth $200-300 million. If the project is approved and launched soon, Vietnam will have “made in Vietnam” microchip factories in operation within three or four years and the country will be able to manage the whole process of both designing and manufacturing microchips.
As microchip manufacturing is still in its infancy in Vietnam, Prof. Dr Dang Luong Mo from Japan’s Hosei University insists on employing consultants from the US, Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK) and India which are the world’s leading microchip designers and manufacturers.
Like Thailand and the Philippines, the RoK first started with the assembly of microchips for other countries and then has successfully developed its own microchip industry thanks to high-quality human resources, low-cost labour, and close research cooperation between domestic investors.
India, with its population 15 times larger than Vietnam’s, has also developed a microchip industry with 28 million workers involved in generating $400 billion worth of products. If Vietnam manages the project well, its microchip industry may attract 2 million workers and earn $25 billion in revenue.
For that reason, experts have asked relevant agencies to study and learn experiences from India in developing the microchip industry and training human resources for the purpose of national industrialisation and modernisation.
The bottom line is that we need to find and put a proper solution in place as soon as possible.