Samsung Elec mulls outsourcing chipmaking as it runs out of space at foundry

2021.02.26 13:54:25 | 2021.02.26 19:08:10

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]이미지 확대

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]

Samsung Electronics Co. may increase outsourcings some of general-purpose computer chips to Taiwan-based UMC and California-based GlobalFoundaries as it runs out of space at its own foundries due to explosive demand.

According to industry sources on Thursday, Samsung Electronics’ in-house system LSI division recently agreed to source its CMOS image sensors for smartphone cameras from UMC. Outsourcing of semiconductors is unusual to the world’s No. 1 memory chip maker, which launched its own foundry business in the mid-2000s. UMC will soon mass produce chips using 28nm process technology for Samsung Electronics.

An industry source said Samsung Electronics began to respond to a shortage of semiconductor facilities late last year by starting a collaboration with UMC, and the South Korean chip giant will increase outsourcing for general-purpose semiconductors such as display driver integrated circuits mounted on TVs.

The company may also enter a consignment agreement with GlobalFoundries, a foundry spun off from U.S. chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices who once worked with Samsung Electronics in 2014 on the transfer of 14nm process technology.

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Another industry source said Samsung Electronics may leave a considerable part of its general-purpose semiconductors to other external companies that could include Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s No. 1 foundry company.

Amid the supply shortage, the Korean semiconductor industry is also rushing to carry out massive facility investment projects to prepare for another super-cycle in the market.

Samsung Electronics is considering Austin, Texas, as one of the sites for a new $17 billion 3-nm chip plant. SK Hynix recently completed a new production line at Icheon, Gyeonggi, where new 10nm DRAM chips will be rolled out using EUV light exposure equipment from ASML.

A shortage of semiconductors is delaying production lines at global car manufacturers and game console makers among others as the shift to working from home has created a surge in demand for electronics.

On Friday, Samsung Electronics shares ended 3.3 percent lower at 82,500 won($73.40) and SK Hynix 4.7 percent lower at 141,500 won.

By Lee Jong-hyuk and Minu Kim

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