Samsung Chip Factory Gets $1 Billion Upgrade

A Texas facility that manufactures Samsung's chips for devices that make up the Internet of Things will get a $1 billion upgrade, the Korean tech giant announced Tuesday.

The fabrication facility, or "fab," is located in Austin and once made memory chips. But since 2010, it has been devoted entirely to Samsung's system-on-a-chip (SoC) products, which integrate a processor, modem, memory, and more onto a single chip. The company has unveiled many SoC variants in recent years, from a bioprocessor for fitness wearables to the latest octa-core Exynos series.

The $1 billion investment pales in comparison to the $4 billion that Samsung spent to transition the Austin factory away from memory chips in 2010, according to the Austin American-Statesman. But it is a sign of the growing demand that the IoT is placing on Samsung and other SoC manufacturers.

The money will be spent on new manufacturing equipment and construction costs, as well as hiring hundreds of new engineers and technicians to run the equipment, the Statesman reports. Samsung said in a news release that it plans to wrap up the investment by the first half of 2017.

In October, Samsung started mass production of SoC products built using 10-nanometer technology. Compared to its 14nm predecessor, the 10nm process promises up to 27 percent higher performance or 40 percent lower power consumption, Samsung says. Chips made from the new process will be used in digital services launching early next year, possibly including the Galaxy S8.

Even as it looks to smaller and more power-efficient SoCs, Samsung continues to invest in memory for smartphones and tablets. Its new 8GB module, based on the 10nm fabrication process, operates at up to 4,266Mbps. That's twice as fast as DDR4 DRAM for PCs, which typically work at 2,133Mbps, and it essentially doubles the capacity of the company's 20nm-class 4GB DRAM mobile memory while consuming approximately the same amount of power.

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