Taiwan and South Korea to stay key chip hubs, says MKS chief







South Korea and Taiwan will nonetheless be key semiconductor hubs in years to come back, at the same time as strain to diversify provide chains results in new competitors from locations such because the US and Germany, in accordance with the chief govt of US chipmaking tools provider MKS Devices.

John TC Lee, president and chief govt of MKS, added that the present droop within the chip market was only a cyclical downturn, and that the trade was nonetheless on observe to develop at a “wholesome charge” within the medium to long run.

“We’ve been by way of [this] many occasions,” mentioned Lee in an interview with Nikkei Asia. “Possibly the chip trade capital spending would go right down to $70bn in [2023] from 2022. However you understand, I’ve been on this trade a very long time. Ten years in the past that quantity was $35bn, and that was yr. Now we are saying $70bn is a foul yr.”

MKS is a supplier of electronics subsystems, together with radio frequency (RF) energy sources and lasers utilized in chipmaking and different fields, and has high world semiconductor tools makers as clients, together with Utilized Supplies and Lam Analysis.

Chipmakers depend on MKS’s RF energy sources to etch extraordinarily nice transistors, particularly for cutting-edge processors and 3D NAND flash reminiscence chips. In accordance with the corporate’s estimate, 85 per cent of the world’s chipmaking tools makes use of its applied sciences.

On the query of provide chain shifts, Lee expects South Korea and Taiwan will nonetheless be necessary centres of chipmaking sooner or later regardless of main economies pushing to onshore important areas of manufacturing.

“So long as Samsung, SK Hynix and TSMC stay chip leaders, I feel Korea and Taiwan will proceed to be necessary nations for semiconductor manufacturing,” Lee informed Nikkei Asia. He mentioned for many superior chip crops, the core applied sciences would most likely develop near the main gamers’ headquarters and later be deployed to different locations if wanted.

This text is from Nikkei Asia, a worldwide publication with a uniquely Asian perspective on politics, the economic system, enterprise and worldwide affairs. Our personal correspondents and out of doors commentators from world wide share their views on Asia, whereas our Asia300 part gives in-depth protection of 300 of the most important and fastest-growing listed corporations from 11 economies exterior Japan.

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However the chief govt mentioned extra such chip “hubs” would most likely emerge, particularly within the US and European nations reminiscent of Germany. “It’s perhaps not as environment friendly to start with however I feel as soon as a hub is established, it will get fairly environment friendly. And after getting a number of fabs [fabrication facilities] in a single space, the infrastructure is now supporting a number of fabs, not only one.”

The overarching development of units needing ever extra chips would additionally assist extra hubs to flourish, he mentioned. “The variety of chips will certainly proceed to develop in years to come back,” the CEO added.

However the semiconductor trade is not a spot for small corporations, he cautioned, as the larger gamers will solely get greater. “Within the Nineties, corporations that had $20mn or $30mn in income had been nice,” he mentioned. “Now you’ll be able to’t do this as a result of the issues that we’ve to resolve now are so tough. That requires quite a lot of engineering, and quite a lot of sustained engineering over a number of years.”

MKS has made a number of acquisitions over the previous few years to develop its product portfolio and scale. In 2021 it acquired Photon Management, a provider of optical sensors for temperature management utilized in chipmaking. The next yr it purchased the speciality chemical substances firm Atotech.

The acquisitions not solely assist MKS develop the scope of its enterprise but additionally its manufacturing footprint, Lee mentioned. The corporate has manufacturing websites within the US, China, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and different nations world wide.

Lee added that the unprecedented provide chain constraints of the previous two years made folks realise how necessary chips and their ecosystems had been.

“The availability chain constraints awoke everyone. There’s quite a lot of ecosystems and help that go all the best way again to your mining of minerals . . . Whenever you begin investigating the place’s the constraint, you retain taking place and down [the supply chain] and also you realise, ‘Wow, the whole world economic system has one thing to do with making a chip’,” Lee mentioned.

A model of this text was first revealed by Nikkei Asia on January 30 2023. ©2023 Nikkei Inc. All rights reserved.


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