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Samsung Electronics 300mm Fab Plant, United States of America




Key Data


Samsung Electronics is constructing a 300mm wafer fab in Austin, Texas. This, the first 300mm fab in central Texas, will produce DRAMs and other devices.

The fab will cost around $3.5bn, with Texas having offered Samsung over $230m in tax abatements and other incentives. This was however apparently less than half the amount offered by New York, which was also interested in hosting the new plant.

Production should begin by late 2007 or early 2008, although it will take several years to completely outfit the factory.

The plant adds to Samsung's existing 200mm DRAM fab at Austin, opened in 1998. Samsung bought around 120ha (300ac) of land when it set up the 200mm plant, giving room for a $500m expansion and upgrade in 2002. This fab covers over 61,000m² (660,000ft²).

"The fab will be the area's first new semiconductor plant to open since the original 200mm Samsung fab in 1998."

The 300mm plant will cover at least three times this area, but there is still room for considerable expansion at the site.

Samsung already employs about 1,200 people in Austin, with around 900 new jobs being added at the new fab.

RANGE OF MEMORY DEVICES

Samsung produces a range of memory devices, including DDR2, XDR DRAM, SDR / DDR AND SDRAM.

The DDR2 DIMMs store from 256MB to 2GB. They are based on Samsung's 512Mb DDR2 components, and made in an advanced 10-micron process.

Samsung's XDR DRAMs have up to 8.0GB/s sustained bandwidth. They are organised in eight banks, with efficient operation for different bank sets (even / odd). There is zero refresh overhead.

The memory fits in video console games, digital televisions, computer servers, workstations and other applications requiring high bandwidth and low latency. The devices bring high system memory bandwidth for processors, multimedia and 3D graphics.

Mobile-SDR / DDRs consume less power than normal synchronous DRAMs, with Samsung offering 1.8V, 2.5V or 3.0V supply. Special functions include PASR (Partial Array Self Refresh) and internal automatic TCSR (Temperature Compensated Self Refresh), which extend battery life both during operation and on standby mode.

Conventional DRAM is operated by a separate controller independent from computer system operation, and finds it difficult to keep up with faster CPUs. SDRAM (Synchronous DRAM) processes data at the same speed as the system clock. That makes it excellent for high speed processing of large volume data.

SDRAM has been used for PCs, servers and networks, and is now being used in consumer equipment like printers, digital cameras, hard disk drives and set-top boxes.

FIRST FAB IN AUSTIN FOR SOME YEARS

The decision to locate the 300mm fab in Austin was greeted with some relief in the area, since there has been a slide in semiconductor-related employment in central Texas over the last ten years.

"Production should begin by late 2007, although it will take several years to completely outfit the factory."

The fab will be the area's first new semiconductor plant to open since the original 200mm Samsung fab (making high-speed memories for PCs and servers) in 1998.

Samsung worked with Austin officials for 16 months before announcing the decision. The company was concerned about the lack of direct flights from Austin to Seoul, meaning that finished wafers must be sent via the Dallas air freight terminal.

The I-35 highway between Austin and Dallas is often busy, adding delays to shipments destined for Korea for final assembly and testing Samsung sought reassurances about congestion on and around the I-35 over the next ten to 15 years.

The nearness to the University of Texas was an attraction, making it easier for Samsung to recruit future engineers.

In 2005, Austin attracted Freescale Semiconductor's headquarters and a consolidation of Advanced Micro Devices' campus. This has offset the drop in semiconductor related employment from 25,000 in 2000 to about 15,000 now.

LARGEST EVER FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN A US FACTORY

The plant is thought to be the largest investment by a foreign company in an American factory. Samsung's existing 200mm fab was Samsung's only semiconductor plant outside South Korea. Without the new investment, this plant would have become less and less viable as it reached the end of its useful life.

The announcement also makes future expansion in Austin much more likely.

Samsung has clustered manufacturing operations before with a $33bn expansion now underway that will create the world's largest semiconductor complex in the Korean cities of Giheung and Hwaseong. This will be the world's largest semiconductor complex when completed in 2012.