Samsung gets lower chip costs with 300-mm wafers

Samsung Electronics, the world's largest memory-chip maker, has begun producing 300-mm (12-inch) wafers at its fab in Hwasung-gun, South Korea. The wafers offer 2.5 times the capacity of 200-mm (8-inch) wafers and will result in lower production costs for memory chips, the company said.

By using a larger wafer size, Samsung Electronics is able to produce more chips on each wafer. The company plans to further increase the number of chips that can be produced on each wafer by using more advanced production processes which will reduce the size of the chips by shrinking the size of individual circuits.

At present, Samsung Electronics is producing 512M-bit DDR SDRAM (Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory) chips on the 300-mm wafers using a 0.12-micron process. Next year, Samsung Electronics intends to switch production to a 0.10-micron process, which will offer greater production capacity and lower costs. By 2004, the company plans to extend these benefits further by implementing a 0.07-micron production process.

The DRAM market has been hit hard by a combination of falling demand and overcapacity that has resulted in a steep drop in prices. With analysts noting that every DRAM maker is currently selling memory chips at prices below their production cost, minimizing these losses by reducing costs has been a priority for memory-chip makers.

The 300-mm wafers produced by Samsung Electronics are being used to make high-capacity memory chips, which are expected to represent 45 percent of the company's total DRAM output by the end of this year, according to the company.

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