[News] Samsung Accelerates 3D Packaging with Hybrid Bonding Production Line in Korean Advanced Packaging Hub

In a bid to enhance its foundry capabilities, Samsung is earnestly integrating hybrid bonding technology. According to industry sources, Applied Materials and Besi Semiconductor are establishing equipment for hybrid bonding at the Cheonan Campus, slated for use in next-generation packaging solutions like X-Cube and SAINT.

According to a report from South Korean media outlet The Elec, industry sources have indicated that Applied Materials and Besi Semiconductor are installing hybrid bonding equipment at Samsung’s Cheonan Campus, a key site for advanced packaging production. Officials from the South Korean industry also mentioned that a production line is currently under construction, with the equipment intended for non-memory packaging.

Compared to existing bonding methods, hybrid bonding enhances I/O and wiring lengths. Samsung’s latest investment is expected to strengthen its advanced packaging capabilities, introducing the X-Cube utilizing hybrid bonding technology.

Industry sources cited by the report have suggested that hybrid bonding could also be applied to Samsung’s SAINT (Samsung Advanced Interconnect Technology) platform, which the company began introducing this year. The platform includes three types of 3D stacking technologies: SAINT S, SAINT L, and SAINT D.

SAINT S involves vertically stacking SRAM on logic chips such as CPUs. SAINT L involves stacking logic chips on top of other logic chips or application processors (APs). SAINT D entails vertical stacking of DRAM with logic chips like CPUs and GPUs.

TSMC, the leading semiconductor foundry, also offers hybrid bonding in its System on Integrated Chip (SoIC) for 3D packaging services, which is similarly provided by Applied Materials and Besi Semiconductor. Intel has also applied hybrid bonding technology in its 3D packaging technology, Foveros Direct, which was commercialized last year.

Reportedly, industry sources anticipate that Samsung’s investment in hybrid bonding facilities is poised to attract major clients such as NVIDIA and AMD. This is because the demand for hybrid bonding among fabless customers is steadily increasing.

(Photo credit: Samsung)

Please note that this article cites information from The Elec.


[News] Hyundai Faces Challenges in Obtaining Electric Vehicle Tax Credits in the United States

Negotiations between Hyundai Motor and the U.S. government concerning tax incentives for the Korean automaker’s USD 5.5 billion EV plant in Georgia have yet to reach a conclusion.

It was first reported on August 31st 2023, indicating that Hyundai Motor Group and LG Energy Solution (LGES) would invest an additional USD 2 billion in their battery cell manufacturing joint venture (JV) at the Metaplant in Bryan County, Georgia.

The company subsequently aimed to expedite the construction of its factory in Georgia and establish partnerships with local battery suppliers to align with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), as stated by Hyundai’s CFO Seo Gang-Hyun during an earnings call.

In an latter interview, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp expressed concerns that the IRA is adversely affecting Korean companies. Korea Joongang Daily further noted that no Korean electric vehicles, including those from Hyundai Motor and Kia, are currently listed for the IRA tax credit. According to TrendForce’s analyst, the market share in 2023 for Hyundai Motor and Kia combined is 10.6%, which ranks as 4th in the US market, behind GM, Toyota, and Ford.

Currently, the U.S. Energy Department has reportedly yet provided a definitive response to Hyundai’s request for a 30 percent tax credit under the IRA, as per a report from the Korean media outlet Korea Joongang Daily. As reported by The Korea Daily, the potential value of these incentives could be around USD 350 million.

“We’ve been constantly discussing with the U.S. government for the incentives,” Hyundai Motor confirmed regarding the news. “Nothing has been decided, and we’re waiting for the result.” Still, reportedly, Hyundai and Kia have not announced any cuts to EV production or investment.

TrendForce notes that the automotive industry is currently facing high raw material and labor costs, as well as significant investments in electrification and autonomous driving. Balancing the protection of local enterprises, maintaining competitiveness, and managing consumer costs is an urgent task for governments worldwide. Most countries are focusing on the country of origin rather than the brand of vehicles in their restrictive measures.

Measures taken by the US—specifically for EVs—include requiring that EVs and their batteries be assembled in North America. Furthermore, critical minerals in the batteries must originate from countries that have signed free trade agreements with the US to qualify for subsidies totaling US$7,500.

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(Photo credit: Hyundai)

Please note that this article cites information from Korea Joongang Daily and The Korea Daily.


[News] Japan Makes Significant Investment in Semiconductors, Potentially Surpass South Korea Within a Decade

As competition in the semiconductor industry intensifies, countries worldwide are implementing industrial policies to attract domestic and foreign investments. Japan, in particular, has introduced substantial subsidies to entice industry players to invest and establish facilities.

According to the report from South Korean “Dong-a Ilbo,” compared to other nations, South Korea’s semiconductor industry lacks sufficient subsidies, and there are concerns that Japan may surpass South Korea within the next decade.

Given the high cost of advanced semiconductor facility equipment and relatively higher local labor and other costs in Japan compared to other Asian countries, semiconductor companies are making substantial investments, often in the trillions of yen, to set up facilities in Japan.

In an effort to attract foreign companies to establish facilities in Japan, the Japanese government not only promotes the capabilities of numerous domestic semiconductor upstream suppliers to meet supply chain demands but also provides subsidies to alleviate the burden on industry players, thereby enhancing the competitiveness of products manufactured in Japan.

Taking memory giant Micron as an example, reportedly, Micron’s DRAM plant being constructed in Hiroshima, Japan, has received a 39% subsidy from the Japanese government for the construction cost. This subsidy has enhanced its cost competitiveness by 5% to 7%.

With substantial assistance from the Japanese government, there is a potential for Micron to narrow the market share gap with Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix in the future.

In recent years, TSMC has also chosen to establish a plant in Kumamoto, Japan, under the active solicitation of the Japanese government. In June of the previous year, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry announced that TSMC, along with Sony and Denso, jointly investing in Kumamoto Fab 1, could receive a maximum subsidy of JPY 476 billion (approximately USD 3.34 billion), equivalent to half of the construction cost.

The head of the Japanese Semiconductor Strategic Promotion Council, Akira Amari, previously mentioned that the Japanese government would provide one-third of the construction cost as a subsidy for TSMC’s Kumamoto Fab 2.

However, in November of this year, the Japanese Cabinet approved a semiconductor subsidy plan of nearly JPY 2 trillion, deciding to grant a subsidy of JPY 900 billion to TSMC’s Kumamoto Fab 2, exceeding one-third of the construction cost.

As per TrendForce’s report, Japan is also actively supporting local company Rapidus with a goal of reaching the most advanced 2 nm process. They aim to create a semiconductor cluster in Hokkaido and are offering subsidies to foreign companies, including Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing (JASM) and PSMC’s Sendai plant (JSMC).

This dual-pronged approach by the Japanese government aims to attract both domestic and foreign semiconductor industry investments in Japan.

While the South Korean parliament expanded tax incentives for semiconductor facility investment in the chip law passed in March of this year, it did not provide direct cash subsidies, raising concerns among industry professionals about the potential overtaking of the South Korean semiconductor industry by Japan.

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(Photo credit: TSMC)

Please note that this article cites information from Dong-a Ilbo, Nikkei and The Japan Times


[News] The South Korean Government Aims to Foster Domestic EV Charger, Targeting a 10% Global Market Share by 2030

On December 13th, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) of South Korea held a ceremony to celebrate the establishment of the public-private Mobility Charging Industry Convergence Alliance. During the ceremony, the South Korean government announced measures aimed at promoting the electric vehicle (EV) charging industry and providing support to charging station operators.

According to a news report from Businesskorea, the South Korean government revealed a target of capturing a 10% global market share for chargers made by Korean companies by 2030, a significant leap from the current 1%.

The South Korean government aims to acquire five key technologies by 2030 in the field of EV charging market. These include ultra-fast charging, wireless charging, charging robots, intelligent charging, and cybersecurity software for charging stations.

The ultimate objective is to foster the growth of at least five domestic charging pile manufacturers with a combined annual revenue exceeding KRW 50 billion (approximately USD 38.66 million). Additionally, the government wants to significantly increase South Korea’s global market share in the EV charging market from 1.2% last year to 10% by 2030.

To achieve this policy objective, MOTIE has established the public-private Mobility Charging Industry Convergence Alliance. This alliance consists of more than 40 companies and 20 organizations, encompassing charging pile manufacturers, component suppliers, charging service operators, as well as testing and certification organizations.

TrendForce anticipates that by 2026, the global tally of public charging stations will soar to 16 million, marking an impressive threefold increase from 2023 figure. Alongside this growth, the global ownership of new energy vehicles (NEVs), which include plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and battery-electric vehicles (BEVs), is projected to surge to 96 million. This will result in a vehicle-to-charger ratio of 6:1, a significant decrease from the 10:1 ratio observed in 2021.

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

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Please note that this article cites information from Businesskorea.


[News] Samsung, ASML Invest KRW 1 Trillion in Korean Research Fab as Netherlands-Korea Semiconductor Alliance Formed

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol concluded his visit to the Netherlands, announcing the establishment of a “Semiconductor Alliance” between South Korea and the Netherlands. The alliance involves collaboration between Dutch semiconductor equipment giant ASML and South Korean companies Samsung and SK Hynix. This marks South Korea’s first alliance announcement with a specific country.

According to the Korea Times and South Korean President Office’s press release on December 13th, President Yoon Suk Yeol’s held a dialogue with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during the state visit to the Netherlands. They issued a joint statement formalizing the “Semiconductor Alliance” and establishing bilateral mechanisms for economic, security, and industrial consultations.

On December 12th, President Yoon Suk Yeol led a delegation to ASML’s headquarters in the Netherlands, including representatives from South Korean semiconductor giants Samsung and SK Hynix, as reported by the Korea Times. During the visit, Samsung and ASML signed an MOU, jointly investing approximately KRW 1 trillion (about USD 7.6 billion) to establish a research fab in South Korea.

Bloomberg also reports that the new fab will expand ASML’s market in South Korea, where it already operates four fabs, servicing clients including Samsung. ASML’s exclusive EUV technology is crucial amid the US-China tech trade tensions, making regional diversification increasingly important for the company.

ASML is a leading global player of semiconductor EUV lithography systems, which is crucial for processing semiconductor manufacturing’s most vital steps. EUV equipment are a pivotal part of chip manufacturing, and ASML can produce only around 60 EUV devices annually. Currently, 70% of ASML’s EUV equipment are purchased by market leader TSMC.

Previous reports from South Korean media highlighted Samsung’s substantial EUV equipment purchases from ASML, totaling 50 units. Samsung is the world’s first company to produce 3nm chips, commencing production of the first-generation 3nm chips in the latter half of 2022. It aims to start mass production of the second-generation 3nm chips in the first half of the next year and targets producing 2nm chips by 2025 and 1.4nm chips by 2027.

Please note that this article cites information from the Korea Times and Bloomberg 

(Image: 대한민국 대통령실)

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