VietNamNet Bridge - Several government-level projects worth dozens of millions of US dollars have been produced the first "Made-in-Vietnam" chips.


A lab of the R&D Center at the HCMC Hi-tech Park.

Many people are surprised to know Vietnamese engineers manufacture container locks, auto surveillance equipment, electronic galvanometers, DCM data collection modems and other items available on the domestic market.

These items are proof that research work ofs Vietnamese scientists are well commercialized. The most important thing now is connecting investors and inventors.

"We no longer have to go to electric poles to check data on electric meters every month. We now sit at the office to collect data on the computer screen," said Tran Ngoc Hung, an employee of the Ho Chi Minh City Power Company.

This change was made thanks to the use of first generation chips manufactured by the Vietnam National University Integrated Circuit Design Research and Education Center (ICDREC).

ICDREC, which was established in 2005, is one of the nation's leading centers in training and transferring technology for the IC industry. Located in Linh Trung Ward, Thu Duc District of HCM City, the centre has long been known for its successful design of 8-, 16- and 32-bit chips, used for many handling and telecommunication devices.

Chip SG8V1 designed by ICDREC was the first to be commercialized in Vietnam last October. An 8-bit chip is believed to have low technology, but it is still largely used to make household goods, including electric fans, air conditioners and washing machines. A research work by US firm Renesas showed that the market revenue of 8-bit chips would reach $6 billion by 2015.

Another version of an 8-bit chip which has code similar to SG8V1 has been used to make a positioning device for motorbikes at Saigon Track Company, a joint venture between ICDREC and the Saigon Industry Corporation, in which the former contributed capital in the form of technology.  

ICDREC is proceeding with a plan to produce 150,000 SG8V1 chips for domestic consumption following its success in applying the chip to various fields.

Ngo Duc Hoang, director of ICDREC, said the SG8V1 chip has been applied on monitoring automobile journey; black boxes mounted on motorcycles; electronic key management oversight in the vehicle cargo container; 1-phase electronic meters; modem data collection from remote meters and other items.

The average price of an 8-bit chip made by foreign companies is around VND75,000 (US$3.52) for an order for a batch of 5,000 chips, according to ICDREC. The center said it will sell a SG8V1 chip at VND45,000 for a batch of more than 1,000 chips. ICDREC can meet domestic demand for 30,000 chips a year for itinerary surveillance devices for motorcycles and cars.

ICDREC estimated that around one million 8-bit chips will be needed every year for the power and cargo transport sectors in the country.

ICDREC’s products have been sold to many companies such as Saigon Industry Corporation, Vietsovpetro Joint-Venture, Vietnam Maritime Safety Corporation, TADA development solution technology JSC, and Military Technical Academy. In addition, ICDREC is deploying the project for the design and fabrication of RFID chip, card and card reader, approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology with total investment of VND145 billion (over $7 million).

The HCMC People’s Committee will continue asking research centers, including ICDREC, to conduct new projects on integrated circuits this year and next. The city also plans to have the first integrated circuit factory in Vietnam built at a cost of around US$300 million.

Between now and 2020, HCMC will focus on development of information technology and communications, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and chemistry, nanotechnology and new materials, and new energy sources.

The city government will also give priority to development of hi-tech industry by funding a program to develop an integrated circuit industry with an aim to post revenues of US$100-150 million in 2017.

Compiled by Thuy Linh