SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics has begun full operation on a semiconductor line that taps a new technique to double the manufacturing productivity for sophisticated memory chips, the first overhaul of production technology in two decades.
Samsung announced Wednesday that it has deployed extreme ultraviolet lithography at a DRAM plant in Hwaseong, a city near the company's headquarters in Seoul. The group is the first to use the technology for mass production of memory chips.
The Hwaseong site has shipped 1 million dynamic random access memory units, with millions more to follow. Extreme ultraviolet lithography, or EUV lithography, will be employed at another plant in the neighboring city of Pyeongtaek by the end of the year.
In the early 2000s, Samsung adopted argon fluoride lasers, now used widely in photolithography devices. But with circuits becoming increasingly minute and detailed, these lasers are nearing the end of their useful life.
By turning to extreme ultraviolet lithography, Samsung takes the lead in mass producing high-end semiconductors.
Domestic competitor SK Hynix plans to install EUV equipment in a DRAM line next year. The company is the second-leading producer of memory chips behind Samsung.
Though Samsung is the first to adopt the new process for memory chips, Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. already use the technique to produce CPUs and other processors.
ASML, the Dutch producer of chipmaking devices, supplies EUV lithography machines, with a single unit priced at more than $100 million. Samsung looks to use its deep pockets to gain a technological edge over rivals.