Toshiba adds expertise to Brazil's chip aspirations

Toshiba has considered building a chip factory in Brazil and started training chip engineers there

Japan's biggest chip maker is committing chip design expertise to Brazil as part of a far-reaching cooperation to build a semiconductor industry in the nation.

Toshiba concluded after a study of Brazil, including the feasibility of building a semiconductor factory there, that the nation needs to raise its chip engineering prowess and upgrade its infrastructure, particularly its power grid, before such an investment could be made.

The company has already started working with engineers from the nation. A group of 20 Brazilian engineers have been sent to take a 5-month chip design course at Toshiba's Microelectronics Center in Kawasaki, Japan, and the company has sent two engineers to an institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to train engineers there, Toshiba said in a statement Friday.

"The engineers are in Brazil to promote the development of Brazil's semiconductor industry within the framework of strengthening economic and industrial cooperation between Brazil and Japan," Toshiba said.

Japan started working with Brazil on its semiconductor industry after the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to introduce a digital television system based on Japan's ISDB-T (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting - Terrestrial) standard in Brazil.

Toshiba said it believes Brazil should focus on building its human resources, or chip designers, instead of building factories to reach its chip goals. Semiconductor factories are expensive, with a new advanced factory costing US$3 billion to US$5 billion depending on the size and technology installed.

"The company intends to continue sharing its knowledge and making necessary recommendations to related parties of both governments," Toshiba said.

Brazil's first chip factory opened in the southern city of Porto Alegre in February. Ceitec SA, a government-sponsored initiative, has already opened several chip design centers in Brazil, including in Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo and Campinas.

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