SUWON, March 18 (Korea Bizwire) — Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest memory chip maker, said Wednesday it expects this year’s chip demand to grow despite concerns over the novel coronavirus pandemic.
During an annual shareholder meeting, Kim Ki-nam, who leads Samsung’s device solutions division, said that “external uncertainties” will continue this year but global chip demand will increase.
“We expect global chip demand to grow on the back of the growth of artificial intelligence and automotive semiconductor industries, increased investment from data center firms and expansion of 5G networks,” Kim said at a meeting for Samsung shareholders in Suwon, south of Seoul.
“For the memory chip industry, we expect the market to stabilize this year compared to the previous year as investments centered on upgrading our process nodes are in progress.”
Samsung’s semiconductor business reported poor earnings last year due to a slump in the memory chip sector.
Its revenue from the semiconductor business stood at 64.9 trillion won (US$51 billion) in 2019, down 25 percent from a year earlier, while its operating profit plunged 68.5 percent on-year to 14 trillion won.
Kim said Samsung will focus on developing technologies this year for next-generation chip production, such as fourth-generation 1z-nanometer (nm) DRAM and seventh-generation V-NAND.
For the foundry market, Kim said Samsung plans to mass produce chips using 5-nm nodes, while developing process nodes up to 3-nm to solidify its leading status in semiconductor manufacturing technology.
For its system LSI business, Kim said the company will beef up its competitiveness in 5G system-on-chip products and high-resolution image sensors.
Samsung said the global smartphone market is expected to contract this year due to the novel coronavirus, but demand for 5G smartphones will increase.
Koh Dong-jin, chief of Samsung’s IT & Mobile business division, said the company will expand its smartphone lineup supporting 5G and focus on reinforcing cooperation with global partners.
Koh added Samsung will also try to expand its presence this year in China and India, where they struggled in the face of increased competition with foreign rivals.
For its consumer electronics (CE) business, Samsung said it expects a quick expansion of Internet of Things technology.
Kim Hyun-suk, Samsung’s CE business chief, told shareholders that the company will also beef up its competitiveness in the business-to-business sector by expanding partnerships with builders and kitchen appliance retailers.
Kim also emphasized that the company’s production is not affected by the COVID-19 outbreak at this point, although it still needs to analyze the global impact of the contagious disease on retailers and consumers.