Samsung happy to be “fab-heavy”

by Ed Korczynski, senior technical editor, Solid State Technology

May 21, 2008 – Byung-Hoon “Ben” Suh, VP of ASIC/foundry business development, Samsung Semiconductor, explained how his company has risen to be one of the top of the fab world through bold investment in a talk titled, “Bucking the fab-lite trend” which he presented at ConFab 2008 in Las Vegas. Samsung wants to own fabs as an IDM, and also wants to leverage its technology investment by aggressively promoting itself as a foundry. As other IDMs choose to go “fab-lite” Samsung plans to make their chips and take their money by going “fab-heavy.”

After first acknowledging the advantages of the “fab-lite” model, Suh mentioned that Samsung’s plan to be both an IDM and a major foundry should provide it with highly competitive manufacturing scale and operational efficiencies. In addition, the more you do the more you learn, so greater overall volume should translate into process technology leadership.

The IC segment with the greatest forecasted growth potential is ASIC/foundry, he noted. Like other foundry operations Toshiba and Chartered, Samsung is part of the IBM-centric “Common Platform Alliance” and offers compatibility for chips designed for that technology. Samsung has been the leader of fab capex for the last five years, and plans to continue to invest in foundry capacity, Suh explained.

Samsung is one of the few remaining IDMs that views manufacturing as a core competency and a necessary component of future business, Suh said. As such, the company must continue to grow manufacturing scale, and the focus on foundry growth is a unique strategy today. — E.K.


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