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Seagate opens $74M research facility in Singapore

HDD maker says the R&D site will focus on developing 2.5-inch small form-factor storage components and software for use in devices such as mobile computers and video recorders.

Seagate Technology has opened a new S$100 million (US$74.9 million) research and development (R&D) site in Singapore focused on 2.5-inch small form-factor storage components.

Spanning 40,000 square meters, the facility supports the local mobile storage research team and will develop hard drives, hybrid drives, firmware, software, and other related technologies for various devices. These include mobile computers, local backup storage devices, digital video recorders, and network attached storage systems.

The nine-storey center, which was first announced in July 2013, features eco-friendly designs such as large-scale solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, and rainwater harvesting systems. Named The Shugart, after Seagate's founder Al Shugart, the new facility has the capacity to house 900 employees and is one of four design centers globally in addition to others in South Korea, Shakopee and two in the United States.

The storage vendor also has two other facilities in Singapore, where it first began operations with sub-assembly plant for disk drive components in 1982. Apart from its international headquarters located in central Singapore, the storage vendor also has runs its Woodlands Recording Media Operations, which underwent a S$1.3 billion (US$973.76 million) expansion in 2006. The company has some 7,000 employees in the country.

More than over 500 research scientists and engineers currently are employed in the new R&D facility and involved in product development as well as customer and supplier qualification, among others.

Speaking at the opening Friday, Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said the country accounted for close to half of the world's manufacturing capacity for hard disk media. "In the 1980s, Singapore grew into a global hub for HDDs and remained a strong leader in this field even after the 1990s shift from assembling consumer drives to higher value enterprise drives. At its peak, over half of the world's hard disk drive units were made in Singapore," Lim said.

He noted that Seagate was the first investor to establish a disk drive component sub-assembly plant in the country in 1982, with Singapore the vendor's only media manufacturing location outside of the United States.