[News] Chinese Semiconductor Design Industry Diverts to Malaysia to Evade U.S. Controls; Potential Advanced Packaging Orders Surge for ASE

An increasing number of Chinese semiconductor design companies are seeking collaboration with testing and packaging facilities in Malaysia to carry out advanced chip packaging. According to Reuters’ report, this move aims to hedge the risk of potential expanded U.S. restrictions on the Chinese semiconductor industry.

As there is currently only one non-U.S. testing and packaging provider in Malaysia with advanced capabilities, namely ASE Technology Holding Co., a Taiwanese semiconductor packaging and testing firm, industry sources believe that ASE is likely to become the top choice for orders from Chinese enterprises.

Previously, the U.S. has imposed controls on China’s advanced semiconductor manufacturing processes and access to high-performance chips from major companies like NVIDIA. However, advanced packaging has not yet fallen within the restricted scope.

Two anonymous sources reportedly revealed that some of the Chinese businesses are showing interest in advanced chip packaging services. Despite the fact that the chip packaging sector has not yet faced export controls from the U.S., concerns are rising among businesses due to its involvement in sophisticated technology, fearing that it might be targeted for curbs on exports in the future.

Reuters’ report also indicates that due to the relatively affordable investment costs in Malaysia and the availability of experienced workforce and sophisticated equipment, an increasing number of Chinese chip design firms are seeking Malaysian Firms to carry out advanced chip packaging activities, including graphic processing units (GPUs).

Insiders have informed Reuters that the related contracts only involve packaging and do not violate any restrictions imposed by the U.S.. Additionally, they clarified that wafer manufacturing is not included in these contracts.

Two of the sources mentioned that some contracts have already been agreed. However, these insiders prefer not to disclose the names of the involved companies.

Meanwhile, according to a report from Taiwan’s Economic Daily News, when observing the global landscape of advanced packaging, in addition to TSMC, there are integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) like Intel and Samsung, as well as outsourcing semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) companies like ASE Technology, Amkor, and others that possess advanced packaging capabilities. Among them, only ASE Technology, Amkor, and Intel have production capacity in Malaysia.

Reportedly, industry analysts predict that Chinese companies seeking advanced packaging support in Malaysia, due to geopolitical considerations, are likely to avoid American companies such as Intel and Amkor. Given that ASE is not an American company and can provide high-end packaging services, it is expected to be the preferred choice for Chinese companies.

ASE has previously stated that it will continue to invest in advanced packaging for AI, expecting the performance of advanced packaging to double next year compared to this year.

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(Photo credit: ASE Holdings)

Please note that this article cites information from Reuters


[News] Malaysia to Focus on High-Tech Industries to Strengthen Global Supply Chain Position

A senior government official in Malaysia has stated that the country will prioritize attracting investments in high-tech industries such as semiconductor and electric vehicles to solidify its status as a manufacturing hub in Southeast Asia within the global supply chain.

Sikh Shamsul Ibrahim, the Senior Executive Director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), made this announcement during the Kuala Lumpur Economic Forum. He emphasized that in the face of ongoing trade wars and geopolitical tensions, Malaysia’s goal is to leverage the realignment and redistribution of global supply chains.

Ibrahim further stated that they are placing a strong emphasis on enhancing supply chain resilience and fostering closer collaborations with their trade partners. He also pointed out that they are actively exploring priority sectors with a particular focus on high-growth industries, including semiconductors, electric vehicles, and renewable energy.

In addition, Sikh Shamsul Ibrahim highlighted the government’s objective to introduce tiered corporate tax incentive measures, as per the 2024 budget plan, to attract investments in high-value and high-growth industries.

In September of this year, Malaysia unveiled a new industrial master plan that includes a $19.91 billion investment over seven years to advance its manufacturing capabilities. Key sectors in this initiative encompass electronics, chemicals, and electric vehicles, with the country also aiming to create 3.3 million new job opportunities.

(Image credit: Pixabay)


[News] Micron Opens Second Smart Manufacturing Fab in Malaysia

Micron has announced a significant expansion in Penang, Malaysia on October 13th. Micron had previously invested $1 billion in Penang and plans to invest another $1 billion over the coming years for the construction and equipping of a state-of-the-art assembly and testing facility. This expansion is located in Batu Kawan Industrial Park (BKIP), will increase the total factory area to 1.5 million square feet.

The expansion positions Micron Malaysia to boost production and further enhance its assembly and testing capabilities, allowing it to meet the growing demand for transformative technologies like NAND, PC DRAM, and SSD modules driven by artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars.

“This expansion also reflects our unwavering dedication to advancing semiconductor development and manufacturing excellence,” Micron Malaysia vice-president and country manager Amarjit Singh Sandhu addressed, “The official opening of our new manufacturing facility in Batu Kawan also strengthens Micron’s global manufacturing footprint, enabling us to deliver quality products to our customers on time, with reduced cycle time and at scale.”

Malaysia’s Semiconductor Potential

Malaysia stands out for its strong education standards and shares the British legal system with just Singapore in ASEAN, making it a competitive choice for companies. The language proficiency of Malaysians in English, Mandarin, and Malay enables smooth global communication. Besides, Malaysia’s two top-tier ports, Port Klang and Port of Tanjung Pelepas, enhance its global accessibility.

Penang is a semiconductor hub, often likened to the “Silicon Valley of the East,” with a focus on electronics, computers, and mobile phone chips. The growing demand for automotive chips and green energy technologies has attracted numerous companies, leading to facility expansions. Major players like Intel, Texas Instruments, Infineon, Bosch Group, and ASE Technology Holding have invested billions in Malaysia’s semiconductor industry, marking it as a growing center for backend testing and packaging.

Current State of Malaysia’s Semiconductor Industry

Apart from Micron, which opened their second plant in Penang last weekend, Malaysia has already attracted significant attention to establish wafer fabrication plants in the United States and other regions.

In the past two years, Intel invested $6.46 billion in advanced packaging capabilities in Penang and Kedah. Texas Instruments embarked on building semiconductor testing and packaging plants in Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, with a $2.7 billion investment. Infineon allocated $5.45 billion for expanding facilities and entering the electric vehicle sector, while Bosch Group is investing $358 million to fortify its semiconductor supply chain in Penang. ASE Technology Holding also initiated the construction of a new testing facility in Penang.

The surge of semiconductor giants underscores Malaysia’s pivotal role in the industry. This transformation aligns with the unique production strengths of Southeast Asian nations, reshaping supply chains and redefining production centers—a focus and challenge for global companies.

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Malaysia: Rising Global Hub for Semiconductor Backend Testing and Packaging in Supply Chain Shift

As reported by TechNews, a media partner of TrendForce, Southeast Asia and India, equipped with the advantages of demographic dividends, strategic geographic positioning, manufacturing capabilities, and rapidly growing economic markets, have undoubtedly emerged as the preferred destinations for the technology industry amidst the global supply chain transition prompted by geopolitical factors.

As supply chains actively seek production bases beyond China and governments introduce incentive programs and policy restrictions for localized supply, various Southeast Asian countries have become key hubs for different sectors. Vietnam has become a focal point for consumer electronics manufacturing such as laptops, watches, and headphones, while Thailand has become a preferred choice for automotive-related supply chains. Thailand and Malaysia host assembly bases for servers, and India is set to become a crucial hub for mobile phone production.

Apart from the movement of end-product assembling, the shift in the semiconductor supply chain has also garnered attention. With TSMC, Samsung, and Intel relocating wafer fabrication plants to the United States, Europe, and other regions, a significant cluster of semiconductor backend testing and packaging has been forming in Malaysia.

What Advantages Does Malaysia Offer to Attract Multinational Semiconductor Companies’ Investment, and What Is the Current Industry Landscape?

Firstly, Malaysia boasts higher education standards than neighboring countries. Among ASEAN nations, only Singapore and Malaysia employ the British legal system, providing a competitive edge for many companies’ location choices. Secondly, in terms of language proficiency, Malaysian citizens predominantly use English, Mandarin, and Malay, facilitating smooth communication with global enterprises.

Thirdly, Malaysia is home to two major ports—Port Klang and Port of Tanjung Pelepas—both ranked among the world’s top 15 ports, with substantial container handling capacity and global reach.

Lastly, the state of Penang stands as a semiconductor hub for Malaysia, having nurtured the semiconductor industry for several decades and holding a technological lead. Often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of the East,” Penang has primarily focused on producing chips for electronics, computers, and mobile phones. However, with the growing adoption of electric vehicles, the demand for automotive chips has surged. Concurrently, the green energy trend has propelled the need for solar panels and renewable energy sources. This optimistic outlook for the semiconductor industry has once again attracted numerous companies to establish facilities and expand production capacity.

Current State of Malaysia’s Semiconductor Industry

Looking at the recent dynamics of corporations over the past two years, the trend is evident that Malaysia is evolving into a center for semiconductor backend testing and packaging. Major global players have announced plans to establish or expand operations in Penang. Intel, for example, announced a $6.46 billion investment in Malaysia in 2021, focusing on advanced packaging capabilities in Penang and Kedah.

Texas Instruments declared its intent to construct semiconductor testing and packaging plants in Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, with a total investment of up to $2.7 billion. Infineon is investing $5.45 billion to expand existing facilities, producing silicon carbide and entering the electric vehicle sector. Bosch Group is investing $358 million in stages to strengthen its semiconductor supply chain position in Penang. ASE Technology Holding, also began construction on a new testing facility in Penang at the end of last year.

With the influx of semiconductor giants, Malaysia’s position in the semiconductor industry has become increasingly critical. The distinct production base trends, aligned with the strengths of various Southeast Asian countries, have become clear. The restructuring of supply chains and the transformation of production centers undoubtedly remain the focus and challenge for global companies.

(Photo credit: ASE)

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