Paul van Gerven
18 May 2021

South Korea intends to invest 450 billion dollars in semiconductor research and manufacturing this decade. The bulk of that amount will be coming from companies – 153 in total, with Samsung and SK Hynix taking care of the lion’s share. The government is supporting the massive push with tax breaks, financing and infrastructure.

“The government will unite with companies to form a semiconductor powerhouse,” said South Korean president Moon Jae-in in a speech. “The entire semiconductor industry is facing a watershed moment and now is the time to chart out a plan for long-term strategy and investment,” commented Samsung top executive Kim Ki-nam, referring to efforts across the globe to bolster local semiconductor activities.

Samsung V1 line
Credit: Samsung

Fueled by both intensifying competition between companies as well as governments’ concerns about technological dependence, these efforts seem to culminate into an arms race of sorts. In a bid to regain technological leadership, Intel is investing tens of billions of dollars. TSMC promptly responded by upping its capex over the next three years to 100 billion dollars.

Meanwhile, the US senate is reportedly close to unveiling a 52-billion-dollar proposal to boost domestic chip research and production. The European Union aspires to rejoin the leading edge, though it’s unclear how much money it has set aside for that.

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