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(LEAD) Samsung starts production of 20-nano class DRAM, flash memories
SEOUL, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Electronics Co., the world's top memory chip supplier, said Thursday it had started to mass-produce memory chips based on 20-nanometer class technology in a move to cement its leadership and weather an industry-wide downturn.

   The company also started operation of its 16th production line south of Seoul, which it claims is the world's largest memory production facility. The new plant will manufacture NAND flash memory devices, it said.
Global dynamic random access memory (DRAM) makers in Taiwan and Japan are producing memory chips based on 30 or 40-nanometer technology. The finer the technology, the cheaper and more cost-effective it is to mass-produce memory chips, which in turn results in better margins.

   Samsung's aggressive move to ramp up its chip supply during a severe industry downturn will likely widen its lead over second-tier rivals, analysts said.

   Samsung accounted for 41.6 percent of worldwide DRAM revenue in the second quarter, according to IHS iSuppli. Its second-quarter global NAND flash share stood at 41.6 percent.

   While Samsung responded to the downturn by bringing online its new 12-trillion won (US$10.4 billion) facility, others in the semiconductor industry cut back their output.

   Global chipmakers are facing increasing pressure to adopt more advanced technology in order to lower production costs, as weak demand for personal computers and the limping global economy has battered prices of DRAM devices this year.

   Hynix Semiconductor Inc., the world's second-largest memory chipmaker and also based in South Korea, aims to introduce DRAM chips based on 20-nanometer technology next year. Elpida Memory Inc., the world's No. 3 DRAM maker, claimed earlier this year to be the first company in the world to produce 25-nanometer DRAM chips. Samsung, however, questioned that claim.

   Samsung said its new production line will begin producing 10-nanometer NAND flash memory chips next year.