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SEMICON Show Highlights Chip Manufacturing in South Korea

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By Jeff Dorsch

The SEMICON Korea conference and exhibition opens Wednesday in Seoul for a three-day run. The show highlights the importance of semiconductor manufacturing in South Korea, home to two of the biggest memory chip makers in the world, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix.

The DRAM market in 2014 posted a 34.7 percent increase in revenue, compared with 2013, as the total memory chip market grew 18.2 percent last year to $79.2 billion, according to World Semiconductor Trade Statistics. Samsung and Hynix together account for about two-thirds of the worldwide DRAM market, and South Korea holds 40 percent of the global memory output.

Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International forecasts Korean expenditures on front-end wafer fabrication equipment will be $7.8 billion in 2015, nearly 28 percent higher than 2014. Korean chipmakers will spend more than $14 billion on semiconductor equipment and materials this year, according to SEMI.

IC Insights estimates Samsung grew its semiconductor sales by 8 percent in 2014 to $37.26 billion, while Hynix boasted 22 percent growth to $15.84 billion, compared with the year before.

Samsung and Hynix (once the semiconductor arm of the Hyundai chaebol and now part of the SK Group) dominate the semiconductor scene in their home country, yet they aren’t the only chipmakers in South Korea. Dongbu HiTek is a specialty silicon foundry, emphasizing analog and mixed-signal chip fabrication. Its parent conglomerate, the Dongbu Group, has been seeking to sell its 37 percent ownership in the foundry for more than a year, without success. Samsung and Hynix haven’t been interested in Dongbu HiTek, although Samsung has a substantial foundry business, making chips for Apple and other customers. The LG Group at one point expressed interest in bidding for the Dongbu HiTek stake, but hasn’t advanced that interest.

There’s also MagnaChip Semiconductor, which designs and manufactures analog and mixed-signal chips for consumer applications. The company also provides foundry services.

SEMICON Korea is co-located with the LED Korea 2015 exhibition, featuring light-emitting diode manufacturing.



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