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S'pore can become chip design hub

The island has the potential to become a design center for semiconductors, on par with the US and Finland, but it needs to develop a sense of community spirit.

SINGAPORE--The island has the potential to become a design center for semiconductors, on par with the US and Finland, but it needs to develop a sense of community spirit.

"A lot of niche activity is already happening," said eMicro president and CEO Michael Holt. "It's just that the technical community has to band together to make it visible."

Holt, whose Singapore-based company designs semiconductors for soundcard marker Creative Technology, was speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Singapore Semiconductor Senior Executive Roundtable. Both foreign and local semiconductor design firms participate in the group, which is aimed at increasing the Republic's competitiveness in semiconductor technology.

Holt told the representatives from 16 companies which attended the meeting that there already exist the necessary skills, especially in consumer electronics, for the country to make a niche for itself.

"A lot of niche activity is already happening," said Holt, citing the Hewlett-Packard team in Singapore which designs the Jornada handheld computer.

One challenge the industry faces is recruiting designers, as chip design is seen as lacking glamor.

"It is not going to be real attractive if you are a designer from school and someone tells you your life is going to be designing chips," The Straits Times quoted Holt as saying.