Japan’s regulation on semiconductor and display material exports to Korea has put Samsung Electronics on red alert. In particular, executives of the Foundry Business Division have canceled their summer vacation plans and are holding emergency meetings as they have to deliver products to many major customers such as Nvidia and Qualcomm.
“Samsung Electronics has the experience of reaching the top in the memory semiconductor industry out of nothing at all,” Jung Eun-seung, president of the Foundry Business Division at Samsung Electronics said during his keynote speech at the Samsung Foundry Forum 2019 at Grand Intercontinental Parnas, Seoul, on July 3. "There will be difficulties for our foundry business division, which marks the fifth anniversary this year. We will overcome whatever crisis might come our way and earn trust from our corporate customers. I would like to ask for your support on our journey to become the number one player in the foundry field."
Samsung Electronics is facing a crisis triggered by the Japanese government’s restrictions on semiconductor material exports to Korea. The items subject to restrictions include etching gas (hydrogen fluoride) and photoresists which are vital to semiconductor production. Especially, Japanese-made photoresists are essential to the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) process introduced by Samsung Electronics to get ahead in competition with Taiwan’s TSMC, the first ranker in the global foundry industry. While the company has stockpiled etching gas since last month under a supply plan, its photoresists may run out soon due to a small amount of inventories. There is a concern that Samsung Electronics may not be able to deliver products to major corporate customers in time.
Samsung Electronics presented a win-win partnership with Korean suppliers as a way to overcome the crisis. "We cannot take the top spot in the foundry sector without our partners," Jung said. “In order to help Korean fabless companies work in various fields and new markets, we will contribute to the development of the system semiconductor industry by vitalizing a win-win ecosystem from package development to package volume production."
This year’s forum garnered much attention from small and medium-sized Korean fabless companies as Samsung Electronics declared in its “Semiconductor Vision 2030” in April that it would allow them to use its foundry facilities. About 500 domestic and foreign fabless customers and foundry partners attended the forum, about 40 percent up from 2018. Exhibition booths in the forum were about twice as many as those of last year. They featured advanced foundry technology.