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Samsung and SK to Make Massive Investments in System Semiconductors

www.businesskorea.co.kr, Jan. 03, 2022 – 

Samsung Electronics and SK Group are set to make large-scale investments to expand their system semiconductor business.

Samsung Electronics broke ground for Line 3 (P3) at its Pyeongtaek Campus in Gyeonggi Province in April 2021. The P3 plant, scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2023, will become the world's largest semiconductor plant, with its clean room known to be 25 times the size of a soccer field. Like the Pyeongtaek Line 2 (P2), which started operation in 2021, it will be built as a complex production base that produces both memory and system semiconductors. The chipmaker plans to build a total of six semiconductor production plants by 2030. Industry insiders expect Samsung Electronics to start the construction of P4 as early as 2022.

In addition, Samsung Electronics is planning to start the construction of its foundry plant in Taylor, Texas of the United States. The company currently operates a foundry in Austin, Texas, which produces power semiconductors for IT devices and semiconductors for communications on a 14-nm process. The new foundry is expected to produce state-of-the-art sub-5-nm system semiconductors.

Samsung Electronics' overall investment in 2020 totaled 39.5 trillion won, of which 32.9 trillion won was invested in the semiconductor business. In 2021, it also invested 33.5 trillion won by the third quarter, with 30 trillion won of the total allocated to the semiconductor business. While Samsung announced that it will invest 240 trillion won over the next three years, some analysts predict that it will invest more than 30 trillion won in non-memory sectors, including the foundry sector, in 2022.

SK Group is moving to enter the system semiconductor market through SK Hynix and SK Telecom. SK Telecom decided to transfer its Sapeon artificial intelligence (AI) semiconductor business to Sapeon Korea (tentative name), a new company to be launched on Jan. 4.

Earlier in November 2020, SK Telecom unveiled the AI semiconductor brand Sapeon and the Sapeon X220, Korea's first AI semiconductor. The telecom carrier cooperated with SK Hynix in semiconductor memory-related technologies and outsources its production to TSMC in Taiwan, the world's No. 1 foundry company.

SK Hynix acquired Key Foundry, a Korean foundry company, in October 2021 and doubled its 8-inch foundry production capacity. Industry experts predict that SK Group will start its fabless business by combining its system semiconductor design capability, the newly acquired foundry and SK Hynix's memory business.

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