S'pore to aid chip R&D breakthrough

Advanced semiconductor research and development will be led by Flash memory inventor Fujio Masuoka and conducted in Singapore.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--A collaboration between Unisantis Japan and Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics (IME) will see the development of a transistor promising a "breakthrough" in computing power.

The Japanese arm of research group Unisantis expects the final integrated circuit (IC) chip, which will incorporate the transistor, to provide 10 times the computing speed of current chips for electronic devices such as consumer electronics and microprocessors.

The IME, which is part of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), will be involved in the development of the device dubbed the Surrounding Gate Transistor (SGT), while the design work continues simultaneously at Unisantis' Japanese premises.

Professor Fujio Masuoka, chief technology officer of Unisantis Japan, said at a press briefing today: "The SGT will revolutionize the [semiconductor] industry." Theoretically, decreasing transistor size in correlation to processor speed is expected to plateau in 2020, and the SGT is ahead of the current technological curve, said Masuoka.


Professor Fujio Masuoka, flash memory inventor, will spearhead the development efforts
Photo: Victoria Ho

"Such improvements are necessary for next-generation IC chips to meet the computing power demanded by IT products and computing networks of ever-increasing functionality and complexity," noted the professor. He added that advanced scientific applications are possible targets of the chip's development, such as biomedical, robotics and research in astronomy.

Masuoka, who is credited with the invention of flash memory, will lead IME's research and development (R&D) team for the 24-month project. Some 30 academics, engineers and scientists will be involved.

The team will be "predominantly local", said Unisantis Group CEO Mounir Barakat, although candidates from countries such as China, Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan will be considered.

IME was selected from a line up of R&D institutions from other parts of the world, said Barakat. He did not specify the amount but said the project is a "multimillion" investment for Unisantis.

IME executive director, Professor Kwong Dim-Lee, said: "The partnership is expected to benefit Singapore with the creation of jobs, knowledge sharing from the project's intellectual property, eventually enabling enterprises to be technologically competitive."

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