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Samsung to use world’s largest $15 billion fab to produce DRAM – report

Samsung Electronics overwhelmed the world of semiconductors when it announced plans to build a chip production plant that will cost almost $15 billion last October. At the time it was unclear for what the giant plans to use its fab in Pyeongtaek, a city south of Seoul. According to a new media report, the colossal facility will focus on production of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) for computers and mobile devices.

The fab, which is to be put to into operation in 2017, requires investment of 15.6 trillion won ($14.4 billion). BusinessKorea reports that the manufacturing facility is twice as wide as Samsung’s plant in Giheung, South Korea, and can accommodate up to five semiconductor production lines. Exact production capacity of the giant fab in Pyeongtaek is unknown, but keeping in mind that Samsung’s S1 fab in Giheung can process 170 thousand of 300mm wafers a month, we are talking about something that can produce at least 300 thousand 300mm wafers per month.

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Samsung S1 fab in Giheung, South Korea. Image by ThanhnienNews

If the semiconductor fab in Pyeongtaek will be used mostly for DRAM, then Samsung plans to dramatically increase production of computer memory in the coming years. Since the demand for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices is growing, so is the demand for random access memory.  While the output of any fab can be adjusted if demand for DRAM drops, a facility that processes 300,000 wafers a month is extremely hard to manage.

Samsung already operates two fabs – line 15 and line 16 – that can process 200 thousand 300mm wafers a month. The facilities are located in Hwasung, South Korea, and produce DRAM and NAND flash memory. The new fab is expected to focus solely on DRAM.

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Inside a Samsung semiconductor production facility. Image by Samsung

Samsung Electronics is currently the world’s largest DRAM supplier. According to market tracker DRAMeXchange, in Q4 2014 the company commanded 41.7 per cent of the world’s computer memory market. Sales of Samsung’s DRAM in the fourth quarter of last year were $5.369 billion.

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KitGuru Says: Despite of rather miniscule profits on the DRAM market, it looks like Samsung wants not only to retain its position as the world’s No. 1 DRAM supplier, but also plans to strengthen it.

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