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Samsung's new chip head urges collective efforts to stay top

May 30, 2024 - 14:29 By Jie Ye-eun
Samsung Electronics' semiconductor business chief Jun Young-hyun (Samsung Electronics)

Jun Young-hyun, the new head of Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor business, called Thursday for unity among management and employees to retain its leadership in the ever-evolving chip industry.

“Samsung’s semiconductor business has 50 years of history and has maintained the No. 1 position in memory. We have secured unrivaled technological assets by overcoming numerous crises and challenges,” he said in his inauguration message posted on the company’s internal bulletin board earlier in the day.

“I’m confident that we can overcome current challenges by leveraging the accumulated strength and fostering a culture of communication and dialogue unique to the semiconductor industry.”

On May 21, the tech giant appointed Jun, a chip specialist who led its future business planning team, as the new semiconductor chief in an apparent move to strengthen its market position amid fiercer competition in artificial intelligence chips.

The 63-year-old has extensive experience in the semiconductor sector. He served as the head of the design team in 2006 and the head of the DRAM development department in 2009, and took the post as the president of the DS (device solutions) division, which is in charge of the company's semiconductor business, for three years starting in 2014.

His return to the division comes after seven years when the world’s No. 1 memory chipmaker faces both internal and external challenges.

Hit hard by an industry-wide slowdown, Samsung suffered a deficit of 14.88 trillion won ($10.91 billion) in the chip business alone last year. In the first quarter of this year, the company returned to profit in five quarters but still struggles to secure its leadership in the burgeoning high bandwidth memory (HBM) chips, which are crucial for AI services.

On Wednesday, its unionized workers pledged to go on strike next week – the first walkout in its history. About 28,000 members, or 22 percent of the company's total workforce, are expected to stop work for one day on June 7 in protest of failed wage talks and many of them are from the DS division.

Without mentioning the planned strike, Jun in the message acknowledged the tireless efforts of employees, working day and night, and emphasized that he, along with the DS management team, feels a heavy responsibility regarding the current challenging situation.

“We are now in the AI ​​era, and a future we have never experienced before is approaching. ... This poses a great challenge to us, but if we take the right direction and respond, it could become a new opportunity for the semiconductor business that is essential in the AI ​​era.”