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South Korean gov splashes $22m on memory R&D project

Samsung et al gaze at HUGE MOUNDS of cash

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Samsung and five other South Korean tech firms are set to team up on a $22 million government-backed project to research new memory chip technology.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced the initiative, which will feature Korean tech behemoth Samsung as well as memory chip maker SK Hynix, according to Korean news agency Yonhap.

The government and the six firms involved in the project will collectively stump up 25 billion won (£14.6m/$22.3m) over the next five years for research and development projects undertaken by various universities and other bodies.

According to the newswire the project is unusual in using independent academic and other organisations as the focus for R&D, whereas in the past the government has stepped in to back development projects undertaken by individual tech players.

As such, none of the tech firms involved will be able to get their hands on the IP of any new technologies developed as part of the project. That will rest with the uni boffins who are actually doing the R'n'D'ing on this.

Instead, the likes of Samsung and SK will be given access to cutting-edge memory technology, presumable giving them a competitive advantage over international rivals like Micron.

The US firm was in bullish mood last month, claiming it is a bigger producer of NAND flash than both Samsung and Hynix.

South Korea is already a powerhouse when it comes to memory, its chip firms manufacturing around half of the world’s supply, led by Samsung - which, despite Micron’s claims, is the planet’s biggest seller of flash and RAM.

Despite this lead, however, the memory chip industry is not one in which any major player can afford to sit back, according to Forrester principal consulting analyst Charlie Dai.

“The R&D in this industry takes time and cash, and needs to be invested in continuously even when a vendor already has market leadership. For example, Intel just announced a plan to invest $125m over the next five years in R&D including research at seven Brazilian universities,” he told El Reg.

“I believe this investment is important to support Samsung's business growth in the future.” ®

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