Samsung aims to attract more foundry clients

Posted on Sunday, Sep 26 2021 @ 21:22 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
DigiTimes analyzed the current foundry market landscape by comparing TSMC and Samsung. TSMC is the world leader in the semiconductor foundry market, with Samsung being a distant second. Samsung wants to attract more clients to make its foundry division more profitable, but the South Korean firm is struggling due to a variety of reasons. Not only does TSMC have the technological edge, but the Taiwanese foundry is also a neutral option as it does not compete against its clients.

There has been some talks of Samsung spinning off its foundry unit, but DigiTimes writes this is unlikely because the unit requires a lot of capital:
But many external customers are wary of Samsung's dual role as player and referee which leverages its technology, production capacity and market operations against its customers. Samsung has considered spinning off its wafer foundry business to endorse its credibility, but has not made a move because semiconductor is a highly capital-intensive industry. TSMC has announced that between 2021 and 2023 it will invest US$100 billion or an annual capital expenditure of US$30 billion for capacity expansions. The budget is more than double Samsung's sales from wafer foundry business. A spun-off Samsung foundry business wouldn't be able to afford such big investments all on its own, and would face enormous challenges trying to make profits.
Samsung is the second-largest player in the foundry market but this is mainly because the South Korean firm focuses on low pricing. DigiTimes notes Samsung's foundry business earned just $268 million in Q2 2021, which is even less than smaller players like SMIC or UMC.

TechPowerUp offers some additional analysis and points out that NVIDIA is moving back to TSMC for its next-gen GPUs:
As we know, Nvidia gave Samsung a try with Ampere and there were a lot of reports of yield issues and what not early on. This seems to have persuaded Nvidia to move back to TSMC for Lovelace and Hopper, which is a big loss for Samsung. However, it seems this was also something of a wakeup call for Samsung, as the company is apparently looking at making some internal changes to its customer structure so it can handle third party customers in a better way.
TSMC vs Samsung nodes

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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