Korean semiconductor inventory decreased by 33.7%… Biggest increase in 10 years

Citing an announcement from the Korea National Statistical Office, Bloomberg News reported on the 31st (local time) that semiconductor inventory in April decreased by 33.7% compared to the same month last year. This is the largest decline since the end of 2014.
The decline in semiconductor inventory has continued for four months. Semiconductor exports also continued to recover during this period. Semiconductor production in April increased 22.3% compared to the same month last year. The growth rate was slower than the 30.2% in March.
Factory shipments increased 18.6% in April. It was a slight increase compared to the March increase of 16.4%. Korea’s Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are the world’s largest memory semiconductor companies and are competing to supply to NVIDIA, Bloomberg News reported.

Japanese government provides guarantee for financing of semiconductor company Lapidus

On the 30th, the Nippon Keizai Shimbun reported that Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will hold a meeting on the 31st to discuss ways to prepare legal grounds for providing government guarantees to Lapidus. The Japanese government has already decided to provide a total of 920 billion yen (about 8.1 trillion won) in support to Lapidus. However, as it was estimated that a total of 5 trillion yen (approximately 44 trillion won) of funds would be needed to mass produce cutting-edge 2 nanometer (nm, 1 billionth of a meter) products in 2027 as planned, it was decided to prepare such measures.
As a new company, Lapidus had no loan history and was having difficulty raising funds through loans. Eight large companies, including Toyota, Kioxia, Sony, NTT, Softbank, NEC, Denso, and Mitsubishi UFJ Bank, participated in the investment in Lapidus, which was launched under the leadership of the Japanese government, but the investment amount was 7.3 billion yen (approximately 64 billion won). It’s just that. However, to begin mass production in 2027, large-scale financing must be raised, including ordering manufacturing equipment by 2025. 

Chinese employee who stole SK Hynix’s semiconductor technology to Huawei is on trial

The Industrial Technology Security Investigation Unit of the Gyeonggi Southern Police Agency announced on the 28th that it had arrested and sent A, a Chinese woman in her 30s, to the prosecution at the end of last month on charges of violating the Act on Prevention and Protection of Industrial Technology Leaks. Ms. A is currently indicted and is being tried at the Yeoju Branch of the Suwon District Court.
Mr. A, who joined SK Hynix in 2013, worked in the department that analyzed defects in semiconductor design, and then worked as a team leader in customer consultation for business-to-business transactions at a local Chinese subsidiary from 2020 to 2022. Mr. A, who returned to Korea around June 2022, received a high salary and transferred to Huawei in the same month.
However, it was discovered that Mr. A printed out about 3,000 sheets of A4 paper related to solutions to key semiconductor process problems just before leaving the company.

First strike since Samsung Electronics was founded

The Korea Samsung Electronics Workers’ Union (hereinafter referred to as Jeon Samno), the largest labor union within Samsung Electronics, held a press conference on the 29th and declared a strike. Currently, the number of Jeonsamno union members is approximately 28,000, accounting for 22% of the total employees (approximately 125,000). It is known that Device Solutions (DS), which is in charge of the semiconductor business, accounts for the majority.
Last year, Samsung Electronics posted an annual deficit of 14.88 trillion won in the DS division alone due to the worsening semiconductor industry. Last year, the excess profit performance bonus payment rate was set at 0%, and the number of union members in Jeonsamdo also increased rapidly due to dissatisfaction with this.

China reinvests 10 years worth of semiconductor investment… Establishment of ‘Big Fund 3’ worth 65 trillion won

The Chinese government has created ‘Big Fund 3′ worth 344 billion yuan (about 64.641 trillion won) to foster the semiconductor industry. It is equivalent to the amount the Chinese government has poured into the semiconductor industry over the past 10 years through Big Fund 1 and 2. It shows the Chinese government’s will to overcome the United States’ checks and win the ‘semiconductor war’.
Bloomberg News reported on the 27th (local time) that the third National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund (ICF), the so-called ‘Big Fund’, was launched on the 24th with 340 billion yuan.

This is the third semiconductor industry development fund created by the Chinese government. China Development Bank and fund management company Sino IC Capital established the National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund in 2014 with the goal of ‘self-reliance in semiconductor technology’ at the suggestion of the State Council of China. Fundraising was carried out in two stages, each lasting five years. In 2014, Big Fund 1 (2014-2018) raised 139 billion yuan, and in 2019, Big Fund 2 (2019-2023) raised 200 billion yuan.

Corning “Produces semiconductor glass substrates in Korea… Realizes high-performance chip packaging”

TGV processed on a glass substrate

Corning Korea President Van Hall held his first press conference since taking office last month at the Corning Seoul office in Gangnam-gu, Seoul on the 29th and introduced Korean business strategies and plans.
Semiconductor glass substrates have higher dimensional stability and form factor flexibility than existing organic substrates, so they are a promising product for which Samsung Electro-Mechanics, SKC, and Intel are strengthening their manufacturing capabilities. Glass made by Corning is also supplied to semiconductors, such as thinning DRAM wafers. General President Hall said that the company is currently working closely with global companies to advance into the semiconductor packaging process glass substrate field. President Hall said on this day, “Corning produces semiconductor glass substrates in Korea and is focusing on implementing the cutting-edge chip packaging required for high-performance chips.”

Fado resumes orders in earnest… Order contract worth 19.2 billion won

Fado announced on the 27th that it had received an order worth 19.2 billion won for enterprise SSD (Solid State Drive) from an overseas SSD specialist company. Delivery will proceed sequentially starting from the second quarter and be completed within the year. 
Fado announced on this day that it recorded sales of 2.332 billion won in the first quarter of 2024 based on Korea International Financial Reporting (K-IFRS) consolidation. The first quarter sales and the amount of orders that will be converted into sales within this year through this order contract have already exceeded 95% of the previous year’s sales performance. The operating loss in the first quarter was 16.229 billion won, reducing the deficit by more than 30% compared to the previous fourth quarter of 2023 through self-rescue efforts such as reducing sales and administrative expenses.

POSCO produces nickel for 1.2 million electric vehicles… Joint venture with a Chinese company

POSCO C&R Nickel Solution and C&P Advanced Materials Technology announced on the 31st that they began construction of a nickel refining plant and precursor production plant, respectively, at Yeongilman 4 Industrial Complex in Pohang. The total investment scale is 1.5 trillion won, and full-scale mass production will begin in 2026.
POSCO C&R Nickel Solution is a nickel refining corporation in which POSCO Holdings and CNGR each own a 6 to 4 stake, and C&P Advanced Materials Technology is a precursor production corporation established by POSCO Future M and CNGR with a 2 to 8 investment.
POSCO C&GR Nickel Solution’s nickel refining plant, which began construction this time, plans to import nickel mat, an intermediate material with a purity level of 70%, from CNGR’s nickel refining corporation and produce high-purity nickel for secondary batteries with a purity of 99.9%. 

EU hesitates to ‘hit China’… Electric vehicle tariffs postponed

Amid the escalating trade dispute between the United States, China, and Europe, the European Union (EU) postponed the announcement of its decision to impose countervailing duties on electric vehicles made in China. As it is a politically sensitive issue, the plan is to delay the announcement until after the EU parliamentary elections held next month. Analysis suggests that the country is struggling with whether to follow the US policy of raising trade barriers with China or to expand trade with China for economic growth.
On the 30th, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that the European Commission’s decision to impose provisional countervailing duties on Chinese electric vehicles, which was scheduled to be announced on the 5th of next month, is expected to be postponed by a month to July 4th due to the EU parliamentary elections. The SCMP said, “This is to exclude politically sensitive issues from the parliamentary election campaign.”

SoluM obtains U.S. sales certification for power modules for electric vehicle chargers

SoluM announced on the 30th that its power module for a 30kW electric vehicle charger has additionally secured UL (US sales certification) following CE (European sales certification).
UL is a representative certification body in the United States that evaluates the safety of electrical and electronic products and grants sales certification only to products that meet national standards. Not only are the requirements strict, but the certification process is famous for being complicated. It is highly trusted in the U.S. as it provides thorough follow-up management even after certification.
With this, SoluM pioneered the export path for domestic electric vehicle charger power modules to Europe and set its first milestone in another global electric vehicle market, the United States. 

SK Eco sells stake in U.S. battery recycling company

According to the investment banking (IB) industry on the 29th, SK Eco Plant is seeking to sell its stake in Ascend Elements, an American waste battery recycling company. SK Eco Plant holds a 13.09% stake in Ascend Elements. Ascend Elements’ corporate value is estimated at 2 trillion won. If all of its shares are sold, SK Eco Plant can secure approximately 260 billion won.
An official at SK Eco Plant said, “We are reviewing several options, including selling (Ascend Elements shares).”
SK Eco Plant recently appointed Kim Hyeong-geun, head of the finance department at SK E&S, as its CEO. There is analysis that the group judged that SK Eco Plant needed change to the extent that it replaced the management in May, outside of the regular personnel season, in an unusual one-point CEO reshuffle.

“The Chinese government invests 1 trillion won in solid-state battery R&D… the largest investment in the industry.”

The Chinese government plans to invest about 6 billion yuan (about 1.127 trillion won), the largest investment in the industry, to encourage research and development (R&D) on all-solid-state batteries, a key field for next-generation electric vehicles, according to China Daily, a Chinese state-run English-language newspaper. It was reported on the 29th, citing sources.
Sources who requested anonymity told China Daily that at least seven projects are being planned by battery companies such as CATL, the world’s largest electric vehicle battery manufacturer, and Wellion, and automakers including BYD, FAW, Shanghai Automobile (SAIC), and Geely Automobile. He said that he was included in the support list. Two sources said, “Support will initially be focused on 8 to 9 projects.”

Seongil Hitech expands supply of battery recycling materials ‘equal to 400,000 electric vehicles’

Seongil Hitech announced on the 30th that it will build the 3rd Hydro Center in the Saemangeum secondary battery specialized complex in Gunsan-si, Jeollabuk-do and hold a completion ceremony on the 4th of next month. Seongil Hitech is the only company in Korea that carries out the entire battery recycling process.
Factory 3, which will be built on a site of approximately 30,000 pyeong, is scheduled to produce 600 tons of cobalt, 5,300 tons of nickel, and 6,000 tons of lithium in the first stage, and when completed in the second stage, it will produce materials that can be supplied to about 300,000 electric vehicles. The first and second plants currently in operation have a production capacity of 4,400 tons of cobalt and nickel metal (enough to produce about 100,000 electric vehicles).

Hyundai Engineering & Construction pursues commercialization of technology that uses electric vehicle batteries as ESS

Hyundai Engineering & Construction has formed a consortium with 15 domestic companies, institutions, and universities to develop and commercialize technology to transmit power in both directions by connecting electric vehicle batteries to the power grid.
Hyundai Engineering & Construction announced on the 28th that it was selected as the lead company to carry out the research project ‘Development of core technology for energy demand management’ in the ‘1st energy technology development project contest’ announced by the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning.
To develop related technologies, Hyundai Engineering & Construction collaborates with Hyundai Motor Company, Kia, 42Tat, SixtyHertz, LG U+, Socar, Softberry, Everon, Zenith Korea, Jeju Electric Vehicle Service, Gachon University, Korea Smart Grid Association, Korea Electric Power Corporation, A ‘mega consortium’ was formed with the Korea Power Exchange and Korea East-West Power.

KRM and SWM sign autonomous driving Level 4 global agreement, “Initiating full-scale targeting of self-driving cars”

KRM announced on the 31st that it has signed a global partnership agreement with SWM, a company specializing in autonomous driving system development, for a Level 4 autonomous driving platform and has decided to pursue full-fledged entry into overseas markets. 
SWM provides an integrated autonomous driving platform through autonomous driving HW, SW, operation technology and big data and learning technology accumulated over more than 10 years, and is a world-class high-performance computing system that satisfies autonomous driving (ADS) level 4. The company developed and operates the AP-500 in-house. 
SWM received the Innovation Award and Presidential Citation at the ‘KES (Korea Electronics Show) 2023’ in recognition of the technological prowess of the autonomous driving system, and as of last year, it has a cumulative driving distance of more than 300,000 km and more than 7,000 TB of big data.

Byuren Technology selected as ‘Super Gap Startup 1000+’

Byuren Technology, a company specializing in self-driving LiDAR solutions, announced on the 27th that it was finally selected in the future mobility field of the ‘2024 Super Disparity Startup 1000+ Project (DIPS 1000+)’ hosted by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups.
Buren is a startup leading autonomous driving and advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) technology. By being selected in the future mobility field of the Super Gap Startup 1000+ project, its technological prowess and growth potential were once again officially recognized. The plan is to accelerate the mass production of ‘LiDAR ADAS solutions’ this year.

The era of parking robots begins… First introduced in the building next month

According to the automobile industry on the 27th, Hyundai Wia plans to commercialize a parking robot at the ‘Factorial Seongsu’ parking lot in Seongdong-gu, Seoul around late June to early July. Hyundai Wia has already recently installed a parking robot in the building for verification purposes and is conducting a final inspection. Some parking robots have been deployed at Hyundai Motor Group factories, but this is the first time in the world that they are being commercialized in private buildings, Hyundai Wia said.

Hyundai Mobis discovers promising future companies in Silicon Valley, USA

Hyundai Mobis announced on the 26th that it held the ‘3rd Mobis Mobility Day’ in Silicon Valley, USA. Mobis Mobility Day is an event that introduces the company’s technology development status, business vision, and investment plans to global startups, academia, and investors.
Approximately 250 people attended the event, including pre-invited Silicon Valley startup officials, academics, industry investors, and local investment managers from global automakers wishing to network.
This year’s event was held under the theme of ‘Green Mobility’ in line with the trend of electrification in the global automobile industry. Hyundai Mobis introduced attendees to its portfolio of core electrification components, including chassis technology competitiveness such as braking, steering, and suspension optimized for the electrified vehicle platform, and battery systems.

LG Display targets new business ‘OLED for aircraft’

LG Display announced on the 29th that it, along with Boeing and LIG Nex1, demonstrated smart cabin technology at the ‘Aircraft Interior Expo 2024 (AIX)’ held in Hamburg, Germany from the 28th to the 30th (local time).

AIX is the world’s largest aircraft interior and in-flight entertainment equipment exhibition with over 13,000 participants from over 400 companies, including airlines and aircraft parts manufacturers.

The smart cabin technology unveiled at this event is the result of joint development by the three companies starting in 2020 under the leadership of the Boeing Korea Technology Research Center (BKETC). While the OLEDs installed in existing aircraft are equipped with finished panels, the three companies are different in that they developed OLED panels for airlines from the beginning of development.

Display Association cooperates with Hanoi Technological University in Vietnam for display demonstration

On the 30th, the Korea Display Industry Association held a transparent display demonstration operation ceremony and business agreement signing ceremony with the university at the College of Engineering of Hanoi National University in Vietnam.
Through this agreement, it was decided to install a transparent display at Hanoi National University’s College of Engineering to verify and promote new technologies, and to resolve the manpower shortage of domestic companies operating in Vietnam.
Vietnam is an emerging production base for global big tech companies such as Samsung and Apple, and the high-tech market such as displays and semiconductors is growing rapidly, making it a suitable region for verifying new technologies.

Source: kipost.net