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South Korea, Taiwan, China lead surging chip investment

Semiconductor capex seen passing 2000 peak this year as world craves memory

Samsung Electronics is pouring huge sums into making NAND flash memory at factories like this one.

TOKYO -- Global chipmaking leaders South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China likely will drive investment in semiconductor manufacturing equipment to an all-time high this year, with Samsung Electronics and others scrambling to fill roaring demand for memory.

Worldwide sales of chipmaking equipment are forecast to grow 19.8% in 2017 to $49.4 billion, says industry group SEMI, beating the roughly $47.6 billion record set in 2000 amid the dot-com bubble. The group projects sales to balloon a further 8% in 2018 to $53.2 billion, breaking $50 billion for the first time.

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