Samsung Says New Austin Plant Reaches Full Capacity

Samsung Electronics said on Tuesday that its new $3.6 billion chip plant in Austin, Texas had reached full production capacity in record time, positioning it to cater to strong demand for smartphones and tablet PCs.

Samsung, the world's top memory chip maker, supplies processors to Apple's iPhone and iPad as well as its own Galaxy line.

The plant "has ramped to a production capacity of 40,000 wafers per month in just five months," Samsung said in a statement.

The new plant is dedicated to logic chips such as application processors, while Samsung's old fab in Austin, built in 2007, produces NAND Flash memory chips used in mobile devices.

Booming smartphone demand is boosting earnings at Samsung's handset business, which produces its flagship Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab devices, and its components business, which makes mobile processing chips and displays, helping Samsung's shares hit a record high last week.

"The rampup was widely expected around this time. The market has high hopes for Samsung's logic chip business," Choi Do-yeon, an analyst at LIG Investment & Securities, said.

Samsung, also the world's No.2 handset maker, dethroned Apple as the world's top smartphone vendor for the first time in the September quarter, while a worldwide patent battle with Apple intensifies.

Apple's bid to halt U.S. sales of Samsung's Galaxy line of devices were rejected by a court on Friday, easing concerns of a setback for Samsung in the key smartphone market. (Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)