[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]
South Korea will soon undertake a feasibility study for massive follow-up projects for the government-led “K-Semiconductor Belt” initiative designed to cement its global leadership in chipmaking technology and build the world’s largest supply chain by 2030.
Last month, the government outlined its ambitious plan to become a global semiconductor powerhouse through the establishment of a comprehensive value chain belt that spans key manufacturing clusters across Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. To achieve the goal, the government has attracted more than 510 trillion won ($450 billion) investment from the country’s private chip sectors including Samsung Electronics and SK hynix.
The follow-up projects subject to a mandatory feasibility study are estimated to require some $1 billion in investment, and they include the training of workforce in cooperation with the private sector and the development of trail-blazing K sensors and processing-in-memory (PIM) AI chips. The government aims to make a full start of the projects in 2022 after the feasibility study is completed this year, said finance minister Hong Nam-ki during a government meeting on the so-called “big three” industries for the future – cars, semiconductor foundries and biopharmaceuticals – on Thursday.
K-sensor and PIM semiconductor development projects will start next year in consultation with budget authorities after the feasibility study is over. The PIM semiconductor project aims to strengthen the nation’s competencies in four areas: PIM structure, next-generation memory chip design and process, new devices for PIM convergence, and related software and manpower development.
To take the semiconductor big cycle as an opportunity to become a global semiconductor powerhouse, financing projects linked to large-scale facility investments must be carried out quickly, said Hong, vowing to complete the feasibility study as soon as possible.
Projects to provide a test bed for the development of materials, parts and equipment companies and build an advanced packaging platform under the K-semiconductor belt will start from 2023.
A public-private joint investment project in manpower training aims to conduct designated R&D projects at universities and research institutes, while training master`s and doctoral degree holders in the semiconductor area. A feasibility study for this project will be re-tendered with a budget of 350 billion won during the third quarter, up from last year’s 300 billion won.
On auto parts, the government’s goal is to support 1,000 parts suppliers in their transition to boost the future mobility industry by 2030, while increasing the number of auto parts makers with 1 trillion won in sales to 20 from 13 currently.
By Baek Sang-kyung and Minu Kim
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