In the case of the semiconductor industry in Korea, memory semiconductors account for 90% of the entire production. Thus, Korea's semiconductor industry holds a fragile production structure which is affected by external change such as supply overabundance and price decline. New demand creation is composed primarily of memory for panel use like DRAM. Non memory semiconductor design technology and the source patent technology such as chemical compound semiconductors, ASIC, and System IC depend on advanced country technology for us, according to semiconductor experts. Moreover, library for design, chip block, and core are bent on using by loading to finished product by means of importation.
Hence, semiconductor experts point out: "Non memory semiconductor for us is inferior to advanced countries such as the United States or Japan due to investment will weakening as domestic semiconductor business circles neglect the source technology development and development manpower nurturing." In terms of semiconductor industry's international competitiveness, Korea's semiconductor industry had its technology gap of approximately 5 years in comparison with US or Japanese companies at that time when our country penetrated to produce 64K DRAM in 1983. Korea has grown into the best technology power in the world in DRAM by developing 4G DRAM on April, 2001 ahead of advanced country companies following 64M on 1992, 256M on 1994, and 1G DRAM on 1996. In the light of quality and reliability too, Korea has on a par with advanced countries such as the United States or Japan.
However, the production structure between memory and non memory shows a very unstable structure for Korea when comparing with the mean of the world semiconductor business circles. To break through this, they say that it is indispensable to diversify business into high value-added non memory product. Further, they note: "In order to carry out this systematically and high efficiently, connection with system industry, nurturing design manpower and fostering design special company are urgent."
In the field of system IC too, Korea shows a lower level than even Taiwan. Non memory such as micro component, Logic IC, and chemical compound semiconductor accounts for 94% of domestic semiconductor imports.
Basic infrastructure is also fragile such as creative special design manpower, the core requirement to secure non memory part's competitiveness. In addition, as the localization rate of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and material remain at 23% and 63% respectively in 2004, importing the majority is becoming a cause for foreign currency outflow and an adverse balance of trade.
In recent years, non memory semiconductor's foundry business is being activated. But for the sake of design company's competitiveness strengthening, it is necessary to construct groundwork for foundry industry, according to experts.
In view of technology development investment about semiconductor industry as well, related companies are in a tendency which enlarges to introduce the source technology or to invest technology development in reference to non memory part as non memory part is even bigger in terms of world market scale and it can minimize influence about business fluctuation. Accordingly, the government also is beefing up technology development support program about non memory part like SoC from established memory-oriented technology development support.
Urgent system semiconductor industry's growth
Regarding major policy direction, each company's ceaseless technology development effort and preceding investment must be attained since competition between world prominent companies is unavoidable, not competition between domestic companies as a world simple market. Experts comment: "Bold investment decision must be attained about market prediction ability and investment timing. Therefore such every effort must be attained under each company's autonomy and responsibility."
With regard to technology development activities the private feels difficulty in securing competitiveness with their autonomous effort alone, the government devotes itself to supporting some of development fund by teaming up with the industrial world, the academic world and laboratories. It is worth noticing that the government is strengthening semiconductor industry's competitiveness through manpower nurturing to serve as groundwork for the semiconductor industry development, associated industry's infrastructure construction support like semiconductor equipment and material industry, and advanced technology's receiving by means of foreign investment attraction.
Secondly as for memory part's competitiveness superiority continuity, Korea distinguished itself in the field of memory market including DRAM and Flash memory, CIS and LDI in 2006 too. In the case of Samsung Electronics, memory part's net profit rate reaches to 30% among others and Hynix also posted 20% level's net profit rate. This can be assessed to be superior outcome in comparison with another memory manufacturers Intel, Toshiba and Infenion.
Thirdly as to system semiconductor industry's growth, domestic semiconductor design industry shows still absolute inferiority in numbers in the field of the core system design, application software, and embodiment way. On this, the government is propelling a next generation semiconductor design manpower nurturing project from 2005 in order to enlarge the non memory production ratio from its current 10% level to 50% by 2010. From 2001 to 2005, the government also has carried out semiconductor innovation cooperation project to support foundry pilot product manufacturing of small and medium-sized design companies.
In addition to them, the government is concentrating its effort on System on Chip (SoC) engine design and process development in order to secure global leadership. On top of that, the government is promoting a SoC differentiation research groundwork construction project in order to build SoC design platform for the sake of high valueadded non memory SoC design technology's base enlargement which depends on technology introduction from advanced countries. Big technology gap in non memory Fourthly, it is noteworthy that the government drives forward all-inclusively semiconductor-related technology development, groundwork construction, manpower nurturing, and international cooperation which have been promoted dispersedly through the launch of the Consortium of Semiconductor Advanced Research (www.semiconplus.org).
Accordingly in preparation for the post-DRAM era, the Consortium of Semiconductor Advanced Research has embarked 7 great tasks from 2004 through 2006 such as system IC for Smart-Car, system IC for Telemetrics, Giga notch PRAM, Deep via 3D package development, and GPS/Galileo complex system IC.
Fifthly, the localization rate of semiconductor manufacturing equipment is no more than 19% level in 2006. To lift fragile equipment/material industry to the level on par with advanced countries, the government is presenting roadmap which is necessary for process innovation or product development plus devising domestic technology improvement by means of joint technology development with small and medium-sized collaborating companies.
As of 2006, Korea's semiconductor industry holds the third rank following the United States and Japan. Our semiconductor market share in world market shows 10.7%, of which memory occupies 41.2% and DRAM has developed into the most competitive segment by possessing 45.1% as No.1 in the world.
In memory part, Samsung Electronics and Hynix possess 28% and 13% respectively. In the case of DRAM, Samsung Electronics and Hynix possess 29% and 16% each.
Non memory semiconductor world market share appears as the US 56.0%, Japan 24.2%, and Korea 1.5% level. Hence, memory semiconductor has secured competitiveness whereas non memory semiconductor shows big technology gap with advanced countries for us.