Malaysia is a major global manufacturing hub for the E&E industry, produces semiconductors, electronic equipment for industries and electronic products for customers worldwide. This industry has been well-known as the largest contributor to export of Malaysia, 36.4% (RM405.83 billion) of total export in 2021 (source MATRADE)
Semiconductor production ecosystem incorporates Research and Development (R&D) / Design and Development (D&D), wafer fabrication and testing, which is known as the front activities before continuing with the back-end activities such as assembly & test and packaging of the chip.
Integrated circuit (IC) design is a critical front-end manufacturing related services activity that needs to be groomed to link to the global semiconductor value chain. IC design is a very competitive global business. It relies heavily on knowledge-driven initiatives and requires extensive R&D. The level of technology involved in an IC design is very high as this activity, within the semiconductor value chain, has the highest value-added component. This will undoubtedly pave the way for Malaysia to become a high value-added semiconductor producing country by incorporating all the activities along the value chain, namely IC design, wafer fabrication, assembly & test and technical marketing.
In Malaysia, we have local IC design players such as Infinecs, Oppstar, Symmid and SkyeChip that are serving the global value chain. The existence of such companies in strongly helps to grow and strengthen the local semiconductor ecosystem.
Infinecs: IC Design Pioneer
Even though Infinecs has been Malaysia’s 50-year leadership and contributions in the global E&E arena, they can’t afford to be complacent.
Businesses need to keep up with accelerating technological changes and address competition from other countries. Additionally, the local E&E market needs to reduce its reliance on multinational companies (MNCs) particularly in the high-value Research, Design, and Development spaces.
Overcoming these hurdles requires Malaysian companies to move up the value chain by migrating into new fields, such as System-On-Chip (SOC) design and embedded hardware development. As Malaysia moves towards embracing Industry 4.0 and the knowledge economy, there is a need to continuously invest in developing local technical talent to reduce dependency on highly-skilled and expensive foreign talents.
Infinec’s Annual Dinner
When Infinecs Systems was established at the end of 2016, its founders were acutely aware of these ecosystem challenges but also recognised the inherent growth potential if skill and technical gaps in the E&E industry were addressed.
Infinecs Systems is the brainchild of several industry veterans from Intel and Motorola. Together, these founders and company leaders have a cumulative experience of more than 150 years designing, developing, and leading projects teams in semiconductor products.
The company has grown from just over 10 engineers in 2016 to more than 100 employees today, while recording growth since inception. Infinecs intends to accelerate its growth and expects to double its revenue in the coming years.
Global Clients, Global Ambitions
Infinecs’ rapid growth is due to a key strategy of tapping into strong demand for SOC design outsourcing from MNCs operating in the ASEAN and Asia Pacific regions.
In the years since, Infinecs has grown in tandem with their MNC customers’ needs, expanding to the US and India, where Infinecs has a design team. Moving forward, the company is not resting on its laurels. Infinecs is planning to establish design centers in Vietnam, the Philippines, and Europe.
Infinecs boasts clients from the US, Europe and Asia, which includes global top 10 semiconductor companies such as Intel, AMD, Microchip, Infineon, Starfive and Qualcomm. Infinecs continues to expand outside ASEAN and is actively, pursuing clients in the US, Europe, Japan and China.
Agile and Responsive to Client Needs
To remain balanced and flexible in this fast-paced, constant, and unpredictable world facing the VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) challenges, Infinecs grows its business to cover time-and-material to long-term turnkey projects that optimise its ever-decreasing product development time and adapting to fast-changing market requirements.
Infinecs has carved out a niche in helping fast-track competencies and capability building in new technology areas, in addition to catering design and development costs for clients’ needs. At the same time, it enables clients’ move to new technology areas by providing expertise with the optimal technical backgrounds and exposure.
One-Stop Centre For Electronics Systems
To set itself apart from stiff global competition, Infinecs has focused on being a one-stop center for Electronics Systems Design and Development services. The company has a solid reputation in semiconductor product development, especially in IC/SOC design, and has experience working on advanced semiconductor manufacturing nodes, including cutting-edge sub-10 nanometre (nm) finFET technology at both 7nm and 5nm.
Besides semiconductor design services, Infinecs provides full-scale Embedded Systems Designs and Development services. It is also an R&D partner for firms undertaking new product development.
Infinecs is currently spearheading intellectual property development in next-generation technologies such as RISC-V Architecture, Artificial Intelligence (AI)/ Machine Learning, Security Networking, Wireless Communication, High-Speed Serial Communication, Sensors and Zephyr, which is an open-source real-time operating system.
In the half-decade of its existence, Infinecs has been granted “Approved Global Supplier” status by major technology companies, while establishing Offshore Design Centers in multiple countries, and serving as a source of reference for companies planning to set up design operations in the region.
It continues to strive towards greater heights, taking to heart the words of technology visionary Steve Jobs: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
Despite the ups and downs of recent years, the company remains committed to its vision to be the “Premier Provider of Silicon to Systems Design Services and Solutions.”
In line with this objective, Infinecs management has always prioritised developing a pipeline of local talents through internship programmes and intensive in-house training. Today, Infinecs boasts an extensive in-house curriculum for talent development.
Infinecs collaborates with local research institutes and academia to spur the development of new talent, especially in semiconductor design.
MIGHT has conferred Infinecs Systems with the certificate of funding for the TÜBİTAK-MIGHT call for Covid-19 proposals on post pandemic impact.
Post- Pandemic Impact Innovation
Infinecs has been working closely with Malaysian government agencies and local research institutions to provide solutions and ease the transition towards post-pandemic technology innovation.
Recently, the company received a funding certificate for the TÜBİTAK-MIGHT Call for COVID-19 Proposals on Post Pandemic Impact from MIGHT. This project focuses on radio frequency energy harvesting for wearable devices that aid in healthcare monitoring during the pandemic and post-pandemic. Infinecs has also co-developed a COVID-19 screening and monitoring mobile device that monitors human respiration and detects and classifies respiratory-related symptoms using AI. The portable device is equipped with a screen that displays respiratory features and enables self-health monitoring via smartphone.
These are part of Infinecs ongoing efforts to shock-proof itself against unpredictable events, while part of its long-term goal to move up in the value chain by continually innovating to stay competitive and grow.
Government’s Support in IC Design Growth
Recognising the importance of innovation and design activities to further spur the growth of the industry in Malaysia for coexistence with global technology transformation trends, MIDA is aggressively promoting knowledge-intensive design activities under the E&E industry which include broad range of manufacturing related services activities especially IC design, IC packaging design, Embedded system design and Test and engineering design services. From cost and infrastructure perspective, Malaysia has a lot to offer, including the tax incentive and relevant facilitations from the government. Companies undertaking such activities are eligible to enjoy income tax exemption for 5 or up to 10 years and other facilitations to encourage further interest of the stakeholders to drive more intensive R&D, D&D and crucial manufacturing related services in Malaysia. With these facilitations, Malaysia aims to nurture and expand the pool of local companies in these activities in providing services to the MNCs and be part of the global service value chain.
For more information on how local E&E players can make their own transition up the value chain and embrace Industry 4.0 technologies, please contact the Electrical & Electronics Division of MIDA.