The semiconductor industry is not entirely full of gloom and doom as American chipmaker Linear Technology can attest.
The Nasdaq-listed firm has been steadily expanding its Singapore test operations since setting up shop here in 1989 and officially launched its third test facility on Tuesday. The additional 87,000 sq ft space for staff, equipment and materials will allow the company to increase its semiconductor test capacity by 45 per cent.
"We are fortunate to be in the right market - the fast-expanding automotives or transportation market, and the industrial market," Mr Colin Seet, the managing director for Singapore told The Straits Times.
These two markets account for about 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the company's annual sales revenue.
On the other hand, the firm has a low exposure to the mass-consumer market, including the computer and smartphone sector, which is not growing as fast.
About 95 per cent of Linear Technology's manufacturing is done in- -house. It has assembly facilities in Penang while its Singapore operations include testing and packing, regional sales management, design and warehousing, as well as distribution to customers worldwide.
The new facility, which was built at a cost of about $19 million, will employ about 400 to 500 more staff within the next five to six years. It is next to Linear Technology's 191,000 sq ft facility at Yishun Industrial Park A and provides test capability for over 90 per cent of products that meet 90 per cent of the company's global demand.
The company has a headcount of nearly 1,000 employees here.
Linear Technology's co-founder and executive chairman Robert Swanson, who came to Singapore for the opening, said: "The facilities in Singapore are vital components of our global manufacturing operations. Given the excellent conditions for growth in the region, as well as the skill and dedication of our employees here, Singapore will remain as the headquarters and focal point for all Linear Technology operations in Asia."
Linear's expansion here is testament to Singapore's attractiveness for advanced manufacturing and capabilities in analog and mixed signal integrated circuit design, added Mr Pee Beng Kong, director of the electronics cluster at the Economic Development Board, who officiated the facility's opening.
Globally, Linear Technology reached annual revenues of US$1.48 billion (S$2.1 billion) last year, with Asia forming a significant portion of the company's overall sales.