SINGAPORE — Infineon Technologies AG announced today (April 18) that it is undertaking a major expansion of its R&D operations here. The buildup, said CEO Wolfgang Ziebart, is a sign of Asia's increasingly vital role in the company's strategy.
Ziebart said Infineon (Munich, Germany) would invest approximately $264 million in R&D at its Singapore facilities over the next three years, adding about 150 new engineers to an already 400-strong R&D team made up mainly of IC designers.
The new entrants will concentrate on development activities in the consumer space, including next-generation home-networking technologies, low-cost mobile-phone platforms, and digital video broadcasting and power control. The new staff will also focus on application-specific IC design, and wafer fabrication and packaging processes.
Although strong government support and availability of talent played a role in Infineon's decision, said Ziebart, it was based chiefly on the city-state's proximity to a region that is already responsible for one-third of the vendor's revenue and represents its fastest-growing market.
Ziebart said Infineon's focus on areas like energy efficiency meant it was "addressing markets that are relevant to Asia," positioning it to tap into the region's rapid growth.
To continue to be able to generate innovations in areas such as energy conservation, the company must position its R&D activities close to its customers, he said.
Speaking to EE Times, Ziebart admitted that Singapore was one of the region's more expensive destinations, but insisted the company's investment here was in line with its ongoing drive to push down costs.
"Cost is of course important, but more important is the value you're offering to the customer, and this is very much determined by the product and the engineering behind it," he said. "So while we're cost cutting in certain areas, we've expanded in R&D, and Singapore has played a major role here, not just as a design center in itself but also as an R&D hub within Asia."
"In R&D the cost level is more uniform around the world than it is in other areas . . . it is a factor but it's much less than it is in manufacturing activities," he said.
The Singapore development facility, which Infineon opened in 1991, has successfully brought multiple products to market, including the Amazon-SE, a next-generation ADSL2+ system-on-chip launched last month.