KOREA NEWS Samsung, ASML to invest W1 trillion to build research...

Samsung, ASML to invest W1 trillion to build research fab in Korea

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Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, right, poses with ASML President and CEO Peter Wennink at the Dutch company’s headquarters in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, in June 2022. Courtesy of Samsung Electronics

SK hynix, Dutch firm to jointly develop eco-friendly, energy-saving tech

By Ko Dong-hwan

Samsung Electronics and ASML agreed to jointly invest 1 trillion won ($762 million) to build a research fab in Korea to develop cutting-edge semiconductor manufacturing technologies using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) equipment, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Tuesday.

Another Korean chip giant, SK Hynix, also signed a deal with the Dutch firm to jointly develop technology to reduce energy loss in semiconductor production by using EUV equipment.

The deals were reached during a meeting between key businesspeople from the semiconductor industries of both countries.

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Peter Wennink, president and CEO of ASML, the world’s only manufacturer of EUV lithography equipment used to design and manufacture computer chips, signed the deal at the Dutch company’s headquarters in Veldhoven, the Netherlands.

Also taking part in the meetings were Korea’s SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and the heads of Dutch semiconductor firms, including Benjamin Loh from ASM, Andreas Pecher from Zeiss SMT and Luc Van den hove from IMEC.

The meetings happened on the sidelines of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s four-day state visit to Amsterdam on Monday (local time). Yoon is the first Korean president to make a state visit to the Netherlands since the two countries formed diplomatic relations in 1961.

Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun and his Dutch counterpart, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Geoffrey van Leeuwen, were also present at the signing ceremony.

The ministry said forming a partnership with ASML, which generated 21.2 billion euros in revenues last year, is critical to the government’s goal of supporting Korean chipmakers so they can stay ahead in the global semiconductor industry. Because ultra-precision microfabrication, or patterning the finest details on cutting-edge microchips, is key to making more advanced semiconductors, forming close ties with the company that dominates the EUV lithography equipment market is the top priority, according to the ministry.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, shakes hands with Korean residents in the Netherlands after being greeted by Willem-Alexander, left, king of the Netherlands, at Dam Square in Amsterdam, Tuesday (local time). Yonhap

President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, shakes hands with Korean residents in the Netherlands after being greeted by Willem-Alexander, left, king of the Netherlands, at Dam Square in Amsterdam, Tuesday (local time). Yonhap

“The latest Samsung-ASML deal has put Korea one step ahead of its rivals in the global semiconductor market where competition is fierce to improve ultra-precision microfabrication,” said Ahn. “And we expect the SK Hynix-ASML deal to usher into Korea a more environmental ecosystem for chip fabrication equipment.”

ASML, which operates in 16 countries, opened its first Korean office in 1996. The Dutch company now operates facilities in Hwaseong, Icheon and Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi Province and Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province.

The top trade officials of the two countries also signed an agreement to introduce cutting-edge semiconductor academies in Eindhoven University of Technology and ASML’s headquarters in the Netherlands.

The new establishments will allow Korean graduate school students and professionals who are engaged in the industry in Korea or elsewhere in the world to learn about EUV machines and related technologies. This, according to Ahn, will translate into training Korean workers in the semiconductor industry.

The schools’ five-year program opens next February, involving both classroom lessons and field studies at industry-leading firms or schools in the Netherlands, including ASML, NXP and Eindhoven University. The semiconductor academies are expected to train 500 chip experts in both countries.

“Today marks the renewed alliance between Korea, the strong chip fabricator, and the Netherlands, the strong tool maker for semiconductor manufacturing,” said Ahn, who visited ASML’s clean room and checked the latest EUV equipment. “The new bilateral partnership will make the global chip supply chain firmer and spur more technological innovation.”

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