BENEFIT Panel on
Systems Engineering in CEE countries
EMSYS'96, Berlin, 23-25 Sept. 1996
© BENEFIT

Status of Electronic Industry in Hungary

Zoltan Katona

KFKI Research Institute for Measurement and Computing Techniques,

H-1525 Budapest P.O.Box 49, Hungary

Phone: +36 1 169 9499; Fax: +36 1 175 8192;
e-mail: katona@sun60.mszki.kfki.hu

INTRODUCTION

In the recent years in Hungary, like in the whole Central and Eastern Europe there were crucial changes. These political changes has affected the whole society including the economy, the market, and the industry, too.

From the point of view of the industry the best approach is to say that all the factories have been changed somehow, some of them closed-up, the others have got new owners, or fall into smaller parts. And, of course, this is true for the factories on the electric and electronic area, too.

PAST

In the mid-eighties the Hungarian electronic industry consisted of several companies, active and passive electronic components were manufactured. The active components mainly were transistors, but LSI and MSI digital integrated circuits were also made in low volumes. The Microelectronics Corporation made some application specific integrated circuits (ASIC), too.

The computer industry was based on two centres, one was VIDEOTON company, which produced IBM compatible mini and midi computers and computer peripherals, the other was KFKI MSZKI which produced DEC compatible computers.

In the 'years of ZX-Spectrum' there were some Hungarian made home computer, based on the 8080, Z80 processors. The government, recognising the importance of informatics, supported the manufacturers, so thousands of these microcomputers were used in the primary and secondary schools.

Several microprocessor-based, modular data acquisition systems were developed by research institutes, university groups and companies. One example is the MMT system (Medicor Microprocessor Technology) which was developed by MEDICOR company and the Technical University of Budapest. The system consisted of 8080, 8085, Z80 processor boards, analog and digital I/O boards, peripheral I/O boards. The other example is the CAMAC based systems developed by KFKI MSZKI. More than 150 different types of modules were produced. The systems based on CAMAC modules were used dozens of areas including the experimental physics, chemical - biomedical laboratories, civil aviation, nuclear power plant simulator, electric power distribution control.

PRESENT

After the political changes in late eighties - early nineties the electronic component industry has disappeared, the big companies were collapsed. One can say, that there is no electronic component manufacturer in Hungary now. There are only some small companies which produce passive components in low volumes.

When the COCOM regulations allowed to buy the high-tech computing devices from west the Hungarian computer manufacturers stopped to produce their products and became distributors or resellers of the well-known products and companies.

This decade is known as the decade of the personal computers (PC). The Hungarian market is dominated by IBM PC compatible personal computers. The big PC manufacturers (IBM, Compaq, Intel, HP, Olivetti, Acer, Toshiba...) are on the market, but there are dozens of smaller and bigger Hungarian companies with no-name products, which have really good market positions because of much lower prices.

What about the microprocessor applications?

In the field of office automation the IBM PC compatibles play the role. In higher level the IBM AS/400 family and Olivetti counterparts are used widely and on the highest level some big IBM machine can be found..

Most of the industry became property of new owners mainly from West-Europe and US. The big multinational companies have bought most of the chemical, pharmaceutical, machine factories, communications companies, gas and electricity distributor companies, consumer goods manufacturers, (General Electric, Electrolux, Siemens, ABB, Ericson..). Why is it interesting? Because these companies have own systems and own ready-made solutions for these industrial applications. They do not need any system or solution from outside or from the Hungarian companies.

By the way, there are hundreds of well educated engineers and research workers in Hungary who try to find new projects, new developments, new applications. There are good academic research institutes, university research groups and small companies which try to find their new place under the changing circumstances.

Some of the companies have got the certificate of ISO 9000 (EN 29000) quality management and quality assurance standards.

The university research groups and the academic research area are provided with nearly the newest, high-tech software and hardware development systems and tools used world-wide despite of the reduction of the staff and budget of these institutes.

Mainly the following components are used in the new developments (excluding the PC world):

- microcontrollers from Intel (8048, 8051, 80C196 families), Motorola, NEC, Siemens

- processors from Intel (x86 family), Motorola (68000 family)

- digital signal processors from Texas Instruments (TMS320 family), Motorola (DSP56000 family), Analog Devices (ADSP-2100 family)

- FPGAs from Xilinx, Altera, Lattice

- the appropriate software development tools and CAE-CAD-CAM systems for printed circuit layout development, mechanical design, simulation and so on. Most of these systems are used on PCs, but workstations (Sun, HP, SGI) are used in increasing numbers.

The software industry is well developed in Hungary. Not the original Hungarian software are dominated, but the Hungarian language versions of office automation programs and some engineering program (MS Windows, MS Office, OS/2 Warp, AutoCAD). One of the original Hungarian software products is ArchiCAD, which is a CAD software for architecture. There is some software company where SSADM methodology is used.

Hungarian universities, research institutes and companies have good connection with western R&D institutes and universities and take part in several EU projects. There are about 90 COST actions with Hungarian participants (10 of them are on the information technologies field), and about 50 EUREKA projects (10). 147 Hungarian participants take part in COPERNICUS projects, about the half of these projects are on the information technologies, communication technologies field. Hungarian universities take part several TEMPUS projects

FUTURE

For a small country, like Hungary the best way is to join to the global world market. It does not need to have own IC manufacturer company or solve all problems internally. The government should stimulate the usage of high-tech equipment and support the companies at this field. The companies (SMEs) should find country specific applications, which are too small for the big, multinational companies or requires some specific knowledge.

EU's R&D programs, like ESPIRIT - OMI can help companies to know about the new trends, new technology, and find partners on the well developed side.

REFERENCES

- COPERNICUS 1994 - Founded joint projects and concerted actions, European Commission, 1995.

- Hungarian participation in EUREKA projects, OMFB (National Committee for Technological Development), 1995.

- Hungarian participation in COST actions, OMFB (National Committee for Technological Development), 1995.

- Statistical Yearbook of Hungary, KSH, 1995.