Inspecting Samsung’s $116b, decade-long bid for chip supremacy

The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea, August 25, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Technology giants are increasingly designing their own semiconductors to optimize everything from artificial intelligence tasks to server performance and mobile battery life. Google has the Tensor Processing Unit, Apple Inc. has the A13 Bionic and Amazon.com Inc. has the Graviton2. What the titans all lack, however, is a factory to build the new chips they are dreaming up.

Enter Samsung Electronics Co., which is planning a decade-long, $116 billion push for their business. The South Korean company is investing heavily in the next step in miniaturizing semiconductors, a process called extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV). It’s by far the priciest manufacturing upgrade Samsung has ever attempted, a risky bid to move beyond its established business of cranking out commoditized silicon and to leapfrog the incumbent leaders in the $250 billion foundry and logic-chip industry.

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