August 18, 2009 – Samsung is revamping its 200mm memory line in Austin, TX, upgrading it to a 300mm line — and losing many jobs in the process, according to local reports.
The plan is to temporarily close the Fab 1 plant in October, spend $500M to upgrade it into an expansion of the company’s co-located 300mm Fab 2, which it built in 2007, and reopen sometime in 2010. “We must take the manufacturing area back to the bare walls,” said Y.B. Koh, president of Samsung’s Austin subsidiary, quoted by the Austin-American Statesman.
Reports are mixed as to Samsung’s intentions with the upgrade. The Korea Times suggests the move will upgrade the 200mm DRAM line to a 300mm NAND flash line, improving process technology from 4xnm to 3xnm. Taiwan’s Digitimes speculates the move is an effort to gear up support for solid-state drives.
The move is a mixed blessing for Austin, where Samsung has invested significantly in the past decade (~$4B since 1997). The new facility will open up 150 to 200 new jobs, including more business for equipment and materials suppliers. But the Statesman notes 550 jobs will be lost as a result. (And that’s not counting the ramifications of what those job losses mean to the local economy and other local sectors & services, e.g. housing, goods purchased/sold, etc.)
But, as local economic analyst Angelos Angelou told the paper, it’s “terrific news for Austin,” given what the alternative was — shutting the facility entirely without expansion.