According to the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade (KIET), semiconductor exports from South Korea are estimated to increase by 18.6% this year whereas the rate of increase amounted to 60.2% last year.
DRAM exports, which skyrocketed 74% last year, are likely to show some decline this year. Supply expansion is predicted to be limited given that about 18 months are required for mass production in the market. On the other hand, the new memory chip market is expected to show a surge in demand as cloud services are becoming more and more popular. Chip demands are estimated to soar with regard to data centers for cloud computing infrastructure establishment, virtual currency mining, etc.
The KIET said that memory semiconductor is likely to be the segment to lead the growth of the entire semiconductor industry this year. “A certain level of yield has become even harder to come by since the initiation of the 10-nm process,” the KIET explained, adding, “Besides, the entry barrier has become even higher with astronomical capital expenditures.” Regarding Chinese memory chip manufacturers, the KIET mentioned that their impact in the market is likely to be close to zero this year although they will be capable of posing a threat in the long term.
The KIET advised that South Korean semiconductor companies need to accelerate the development of AI chips while maintaining their dominance in the memory semiconductor industry. “The growth of the South Korean semiconductor industry has been led by large companies and side effects are becoming increasingly conspicuous in the industry these days with the government’s support long gone,” said the KIET, mentioning the development of AI chips, the lack of R&D personnel, and the lack of land for factory construction as the industry’s most urgent tasks.