LONDON – Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has received permission from the South Korean Ministry of Knowledge and Economy to build a NAND flash memory wafer fab in China with the proviso that the ministry provides security support to prevent technology leaks, according to reports referencing the ministry as their source.
It emerged late in 2011 that Samsung was seeking permission to spend about $4 billion on a NAND flash memory wafer fab in China and get it up and running in second half of 2013. The plan calls for the fab to begin production on a 20-nm class process. The location of the wafer fab has not yet been decided.
The ministry made the decision after holding two meetings of its industrial technology security committee to assess the risk of technology leaks.
The 300-mm wafer fab is scheduled to have a manufacturing capacity of 100,000 wafer starts per month, which would make it about half the size of Samsung's Line-16 megafab, the world's largest memory factory.
The Line-16 megafab is expected to eventually produce NAND flash on 200,000 wafers of 300-mm diameter monthly and the phased investment is expected to total approximately 12 trillion won (about $10 billion) to completion. Samsung began mass production of 20-nm-class NAND flash memory there at a rate of about 10,000 300-mm wafers per month in September.
Samsung wants to build the NAND flash chip factory to be near to the contract electronics manufacturers that make the world's smart phones and tablet computers, which often have their own megafactories in China for reasons of cost.
Market research firm Gartner Inc. has estimated the global NAND flash market at about $25 billion in 2011 and is forecasting 14 percent annual growth in each of 2012 and 2013 to take the market to $28.7 billion and $32.7 billion, respectively.
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