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A place in the sun

Mimos signed on Intel to supply its microprocessors and built its own range of desktop PCs with parts mostly sourced locally. It also leases various branded notebooks and peripherals from other vendors. The private sector and home users are next on the cards. "The feedback from government users has been positive and the failure rate has been very low, so we are testing the waters with other markets."
Mimos Milestones 1999
August Launched Mobile Internet Unit program to bring Internet to rural schools in co-operation with the education ministry, United Nations Development Programme and Automotive Corp Sdn Bhd.
September Collaboration with Nasdaq-listed Integrated Silicon Solution Inc for Mimos Semiconductor to license its EEPROM technology.
  Launched Jaring Virtual Private Network for corporate users as cheaper alternative to leased lines.
October Launched SuperJARING with Cisco Systems, M'sia's fastest (2.488Gbps) and longest (861 km) Internet fiber-optic backbone.
  Made official Webcaster for live NetAid concert held simultaneously in New York, London and Geneva to raise funds for UNDP extreme poverty program.
  Jointly launched MyMalaysia Travel Services Web site with Asia Travel Network (ATN) for Internet Travel Reservation Service.
  Jointly launched with Sharp world's first digital video camera able to send MPEG4 moving pictures through the Internet.

Azzman said capacity is still small, but he believed Malaysia could and should be manufacturing all sorts of computing, handheld and wireless devices for local and global markets. He added that Mimos also supports the open source movement and is all for more accessible products. It has also designed a prototype Linux server of its own. "We like the idea of making devices cheaper, more functional and accessible to the public."

On the upstream end, Mimos is on the verge of signing a deal to supply its wafer foundry services to its first major customer. "We have enquiries to make simple four-layer mask devices, and expect to make an announcement soon."

Azzman hinted that the production volumes of the products would be high as the company is a heavy user of the product. For him, the set-up of the RM200 million wafer fab, Mimos Semiconductor (MySem), was the culmination of long-term lobbying to take Malaysia up the value chain from a mere back-end assembler of chips to a front-end wafer player. The fab offers wafer foundry services for 1 micron CMOS and 0.5 micron CMOS/ BiCMOS devices with plans to go down to 0.35 micron by this year and sub-0.2 processes in the future. Production capacity is in the region of 3,000 wafers per month.

MySem has produced a 16-bit Reduced Instruction Set Computing (RISC) microprocessor internally and plans to become a niche player for application specific integrated circuits (ASICs). "We are not trying to beat the Intels and Samsungs of the world but to get into niche areas such as microcontrollers, digital signal processors (DSPs) and non-volatile memory devices.Our analysis suggests that the market for such semiconductor devices is huge in Malaysia and all we need to do is capture five percent. Also the market is wide open with the outsourcing trend in our favor. We are talking to a number of players and we think we can find our place in the sun," he said.

MySem has also licensed flash technology from Nasdaq-listed Integrated Silicon Solution Inc, and Azzman hopes its various offerings may soon draw revenues for the company. He acknowledged that to date its pioneering Internet service, Jaring, has been its most successful venture with over 300,000 subscribers.

In 1999, Mimos launched SuperJaring with technology provider Cisco Systems Inc, the nation's fastest and longest Internet fiber-optic backbone at 861 km. The OC-48 fiber trunk is able to transmit data at a zippy 2.488Gbps, can support 175,000 dial-up users, and allows for various new services such as Internet telephony, virtual private networks, video-on-demand, distance learning and telemedicine.

Last month, Mimos also collaborated with pay-TV operator Measat Broadcast Network Systems to launch a new satellite-based service called @stronet that will offer multimedia broadcasting and Internet access at speeds of up to 6.5Mbps.


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A Web enterprise is born | A place in the sun | Pushing the tech envelope

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