Chips still top Korean export item

2014_12_chipexportThe semiconductor business is now Korea’s top export earner. Through November, the nation’s major semiconductor makers including Samsung and SK pulled in about $56.8 billion in revenues, the largest ever and about 10.9 percent of the nation’s total exports for the period. There are more than two weeks remaining in 2014, but since oil products are the second-largest export item with total sales of $48.1 billion through November, semiconductors will be the nation’s No.1 export business for the second consecutive year. Industry insiders say total exports for the business will exceed $60 billion by the end of the year.

The semiconductor business, which began in the early 1980s, earned Korea foreign exchanges that were used as seed money to develop advanced electronics industries, including smartphones and wireless communication devices. It was the No. 1 export business for 16 years, from 1992 to 2007, but started fluctuating in 2008 due to the global finance crisis. In 2008, Korea only pulled in $32.8 billion, just 7.8 percent of the nation’s total exports, and chips ranked sixth in export earnings. Shipbuilding was the best export that year ($43.1 billion), followed by oil products, machinery, wireless communication devices, cars and semiconductors.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

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Samsung and LG to unveil flexible TVs

Samsung and LG will unveil prototypes of remote-controlled flexible OLED TVs ㅡ considered the next big thing in the industry ㅡ at the International Consumer Electronics (ICES) next month. The ICES is scheduled for Jan. 7 to 10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Because the annual exhibition has long been considered as the place to see new trends and devices in the industry, attention is focused on which new technologies will stun the world. The Korean electronics giants, which gained attention last year with 55-inch curved OLED TVs, are preparing to wow participants and dealers again this year by unveiling the flexible OLED TVs.

“Samsung will unveil a prototype of the flexible OLED TV at next month’s ICES,” said an industry official, who is familiar with the issue, Sunday. He declined to unveil specific details about the new TV ㅡ only saying that the display size will be “huge.” The basic concept of the remote-controlled flexible TV is that users can use a control to bend the screen, enabling viewers to get a better viewing angle. Existing OLED TVs are just curved, not flexible and the viewing angle is fixed. Samsung said the latest technology will use plastic-based OLED displays and a back panel that can deform the display.

For full articles, see Korea Times.

Korea’s high-tech miracle comes of age

2013_11_LTE-patentsIn 1981, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, then a little-known 4-year-old publicly funded think tank, won a 24 billion won ($22.6 million) government project to develop a telephone transmitting and receiving system called time-division exchange (TDX). Most state initiatives at the time – except those to augment the defense against North Korea – were less than 1 billion won, so the institute researchers in charge of the pricey project had to sign a resolution.

“We will do our best to develop TDX, and if we fail, we will brace for any punishment,” read the document, still kept at the Daejeon-based institute. Partly inspired by ambition to succeed, but possibly driven by fear under the military regime of President Chun Doo Hwan, the efforts bore fruit, making Korea the 10th country to develop the system.

“Few believed a nation that lacked experience with large R&D projects could succeed in developing a technology possessed by only a handful of advanced countries,” says Chong Kil-ho, director of ETRI, speaking of the system that allowed calls to be made simultaneously. “We got a lot of confidence from it.”

Building on that confidence, the institute went on to develop several other state-of-the-art technologies, including code division multiple access, which later became a standard of global wireless telecommunication. The institute was the first in the world to develop it and received 350 billion won in royalties from Qualcomm over several years.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

Samsung ready to market ‘one-chips’

Samsung Electronics is ready to soon market its “one-chip” solution in a bid to snatch the lead in the next generation of wearable and flexible devices.  “In September, we started to mass produce the one-chip, which is a combination of the AP and modem chips. We believe the chips will be fitted into actual devices in the near future,” said Woo Nam-sung, head of Samsung Electronics System LSI unit at Samsung’s investor relations session last week.

The name of the one-chip will be “ModAP,” a term combining the words modem and AP to indicate that both the application processor and modem capabilities are offered on a single chip. Once the ModAP chips become commercialized ― Samsung has yet to say when ― it will have significant repercussions throughout the industry and at Samsung, experts say.

“In the short term, the chip would help cut costs, but in the longer term, it’s going to help Samsung prepare for the next generation device battle that will inevitably involve wearable devices and truly flexibly displays,” said Noh Geun-chang, a senior analyst for HMC Securities. Samsung’s biggest mistake in the device war was allowing Apple to take the lead in smartphones. The Korean tech giant is determined not to be outdone this time.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Samsung Electronics ranks no. 2 in terms of R&D investment worldwide

Samsung Electronics turns out to have spent the second highest amount of money for research & development (R&D) among global companies. A management consulting company Booz & Company announced the results of its analysis on global companies’ R&D spending trend on October 24.Volkswagen came on top with US$11.4 billion, while Samsung Electronics ranked No. 2 with $10.4 billion.

Samsung Electronics moved up by four notches from No. 2 this year from No. 6 last year. Following Samsung Electronics are Roche with $10.2 billion, Intel with $10.1 billion, and Microsoft with $9.8 billion. Toyota was positioned at No. 6 with $9.8 billion, followed by Novatis with $9.3 billion, and Merck with $8.2 billion.

Source: Korea IT Times.

Samsung to cut chip investment

Samsung Electronics, the world’s top supplier of memory chips, plans to cut its investment in components by as much as 30 percent next year. The company doesn’t plan to build any more plants to make memory chips because the industry is undergoing rapid structural change.

Industry officials at Samsung’s local primary parts suppliers say that aggressive investment does not guarantee high returns anymore due to industry consolidation as well as rising uncertainty surrounding technology and sluggish demand.

“Investment in chips will be cut by 30 percent next year, at least, because we believe Samsung doesn’t have plans to build new fabrication facilities. Total investment in components will remain under 10 trillion won throughout 2014,” said a senior executive at one of the company’s suppliers by telephone. “It is unlikely that the industry will see cash-burning business projects in chips next year as complexity is increasing because the market is approaching scaling limits.”

For full article, see Korea Times.

Samsung bets on automotive semiconductor chips

Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest maker of memory chips, is taking a fresh look at the automotive semiconductor chip market, as global automakers are rushing to produce high-tech vehicles such as electric cars equipped with infotainment systems and wireless networking, industry sources said Thursday.

Samsung believes chip demand from automakers will grow fast as cars of late are built with high-end infotainment systems, powertrain control systems, in-vehicle networking, high safety levels and high fuel-efficiency, the sources said. Automotive chips are already widely used, in systems that control energy efficiency, as sensor chips for temperature control and image sensors for safety features, among others.

During an investors relations meeting last month, Samsung said it is considering shifting its focus away from dynamic random access memory chip-based business for the automotive market to a data storage-based one.

For full article, see Yonhap News.

Samsung and SK Hynix sign cross licensing agreement on semiconductor

Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Co. — the world’s two largest computer memory chipmakers — said Wednesday that they have reached an agreement to share patents for chipmaking technologies, wrapping up three-year long negotiations. Details about the agreement, including the contract’s duration and royalty fees, were not revealed, but both of the companies reportedly agreed on a comprehensive cross-licensing deal.

Samsung has 102,995 chipmaking patents, with the comparable figure for SK hynix being 21,422. Samsung also signed a similar deal with Micron Technology Inc. of the U.S. in 2010, while SK hynix forged a cross-licensing deal with Toshiba Corp. of Japan in 2007.

For full article, see Yonhap News.

Samsung to build 5 R&D hubs

Samsung Electronics will invest 5 trillion won ($4.5 billion) to build five new research and development (R&D) centers in Korea over the next three years, company officials said Tuesday. “R&D is crucial to ensuring success in the rapidly-changing consumer electronics industry. Total investment will amount to 5 trillion won,” a Samsung official told The Korea Times, asking not to be named. The official said that the money will be used to build five R&D centers. Under the plan, it has spent around 800 billion won in constructing R5, a research institute in Suwon designed to develop smart devices.

Samsung will spend 1.2 trillion won to build a cutting-edge design research center in Woomyeon-dong, southern Seoul. The center will begin operating from June 2015. The design center will house some 10,000 Samsung designers, software developers and strategists. The center will be designed to help researchers maximize creativity.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Samsung unveils ‘curved’ OLED TV

Samsung Electronics on Thursday introduced a curved 55-inch premium TV using an advanced organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology that also supports high-definition (HD) picture quality. The world’s biggest TV manufacturer said that it will start the sale of the TVs outside Korea from July.

A senior company executive said that the curved OLED TVs will be available in most developed markets including the United States. It also plans to sell the devices in emerging markets, as well.
“Samsung believes that curved OLED TVs are better than traditional ‘flat’ OLED TVs in terms of customer value because the curved ones provide improved picture quality,” said Kim Hyun-seok, head of the company’s visual display division, during a news conference at the firm’s main office in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, Thursday.

The executive claimed the latest curved OLED TV is “flawless” or has zero pixel defects. It is priced at 15 million won or some $13,000. The firm claims its “Timeless Arena” design eliminates potential for defective OLED pixels.

For full article, see Korea Times.