Applied Materials to double S’pore manufacturing and headcount

Applied Materials CEO Gary Dickerson. — The Straits Times

SINGAPORE: Applied Materials (AM) Inc, one of the world’s top suppliers of machines that make semiconductors, plans to double its Singapore manufacturing capacity, headcount and research activities in the coming years.

The US company will soon announce the expansion of one of its innovation centres here that focuses on advanced packaging of semiconductors – the integration of a multitude of components into a single package to enhance performance and power efficiency without a significant increase in the size and cost of the product.

AM is one of the largest employers and contributors in the output of Singapore’s semiconductor equipment industry, which has a global market share of 20%. Singapore is also its South-East Asian headquarters.Earlier this year, the company’s new S$600mil plant in Tampines Industrial Crescent started operations. The new plant will employ 1,000 workers once it is fully functional.

“We have a significant manufacturing, supply chain and research and development footprint here in Singapore,” said Gary Dickerson, president and chief executive of the Santa Clara, California-based company.

“We have over 2,500 employees in Singapore and I believe there is a great opportunity for us to more than double the size of Applied Materials and create many great jobs here,” he told The Straits Times at the company’s office in Changi North Industrial Estate.

The Advanced Packaging Development Centre was established in 2011 as a joint lab partnership with the Institute of Microelectronics (IME), a research institute of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

Since then, AM and IME together have invested about US$500mil in upgrading and expanding the lab at Science Park II.

According to A*Star, the lab created over 100 high-value jobs for researchers, scientists and engineers between 2011 and 2021.

“Advanced packaging is an incredibly important innovation for energy-efficient computing,” said Dickerson, who on June 11 received the Public Service Star (Distinguished Friends of Singapore) award from Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the Istana.

“So, whether it is in edge computing or in high-performance computing for an artificial intelligence (AI) data centre, energy consumption is going higher and higher, and those data centres are becoming hotter and hotter.”

Hence, packaging technologies will see significant innovation, he said.

Dickerson said while AM has the broadest portfolio of packaging technologies, the company will have to collaborate with more partners to speed up innovation in this area. Singapore, with an established innovation platform and diverse ecosystem, is the perfect place to co-innovate.

Experts believe advanced multi-chip packaging will be an imperative for key applications such as mobile devices, automotive computing and generative AI.

Boston Consulting Group in a May 2024 research note said value creation is migrating towards companies that can design and integrate complex, system-level chip solutions using concepts like advanced packaging.“Merely making individual components will rapidly lose lustre, replaced by collaborative efforts that bring together the best in design, packaging and system integration to meet the demands of the market,” it said. — The Straits Times/ANN

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