Singapore's manufacturing sector received a vote of confidence as Micron Technology is pumping US$4 billion (S$5.4 billion) into its Senoko facility over the next few years - a move that is expected to create 500 new jobs.
The move by Micron is welcome news at a time when the employment landscape appears bleak, following the Ministry of Manpower's data showing that unemployment among citizens and permanent residents rose to 3 per cent in the second quarter of the year, from 2.7 per cent in the previous quarter.
Micron's new investment in the technology fabrication plant comes on top of an earlier announced investment of US$3 billion in 2011, when it tied up with Intel to start IM Flash Singapore in the Senoko plant. A year later, it acquired the rest of IM Flash from Intel.
The Senoko facility, among the most advanced in the world, will help the chipmaker consolidate its position as a supplier to some of the world's leading technology brands.
Micron's Fab 10 factory at North Coast Drive in Senoko produces the bulk of its annual global output of 1.5 million wafers. The focus of the new facility will be its 3D Nand flash memory chips, which store data in mobile devices and are increasingly being used in hard drives in computing and for its servers.
The US company is going on a drive to recruit an army of engineers who will supplement the 3,400 employees already working at its Senoko facility. Forty engineering jobs are being advertised on its Singapore website this month. The factory expansion will also add 255,000 sq ft of clean room space - double the size of Micron's existing facility.
The expansion is part of a major investment drive by Micron to boost its global production capacity to manufacture flash memory wafers. The flash memory is an integrated circuit used for data storage on electronic devices such as smartphones, computers, cameras, play stations, automotive systems, medical devices and robotics.
"Micron is driving cutting-edge semiconductor technology production in Singapore," said Mr Mark Durcan, chief executive of Micron. "And flash memory is important in modern electronics - a vital technology that enables the connected world and cloud computing."
Launching the new facility yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the Government will continue to partner leading players such as Micron in advancing technology and creating high valued-added jobs.
"Singapore is making major investments in advanced manufacturing to position our economy for the future," said Mr Tharman.
Singapore's semiconductor industry is the fastest-growing segment in the electronics cluster that underpins the manufacturing sector, which contributes around 20 per cent of the economy. The sector expanded in the second quarter of this year, registering 1.1 per cent, compared with minus 0.5 per cent in the first quarter.