Samsung Electronics is not only investing actively in the R&D and capacity expansion of high-bandwidth memory (HBM) technology, but also looking to broaden its market reach through customized one-stop services that incorporate 2.5D packaging. Recent media reports indicate Samsung is purchasing 2.5D bonding equipment from Japanese supplier Shinkawa, potentially targeting HBM and packaging orders associated with Nvidia's next-generation GPUs.
According to Theelec, a South Korean media outlet, Samsung has recently procured 16 sets of 2.5D bonding machines from Shinkawa at a unit price of approximately KRW 500 million (US$387,000). With seven units already acquired, Samsung is awaiting the delivery of the remaining nine. Industry analysts speculate that Samsung's procurement aims to meet the demand from Nvidia.
In late 2022, Samsung established the Advanced Packaging (AVP) business division, with the objective of providing companies like Nvidia with a comprehensive service for HBM3 and 2.5D packaging for AI GPUs. However, Samsung's current 2.5D packaging capacity falls short, and therefore through new equipment investments, the company seeks to attract collaborators and address capacity limitations.
Reports suggest Nvidia plans to tape out its GB100 or next-generation GPU to TSMC in the fourth quarter of 2023. As various manufacturing operations will take 3-4 months, the products are expected to be packaged in the second quarter of 2024. Samsung's advance purchase of packaging equipment enables it to meet the related orders' demand.
The crucial aspect lies in whether Samsung's HBM and packaging services have passed Nvidia's quality tests. Analysts noted that Samsung's substantial equipment procurement reflects its confidence in meeting the US chipmaker's quality standards.
The acquisition of seven machines by Samsung has drawn attention. If the company secures Nvidia's large-scale orders, it is likely to request the full delivery of all 16 machines from Shinkawa. Negotiations may still be ongoing, with equipment procurement serving as a bargaining chip, emphasizing Samsung's significant production capacity, analysts remarked.
While uncertainty remains regarding Samsung winning Nvidia's HBM and packaging orders, the expansion of HBM-related investments aligns with its predetermined plans. According to ZD Net Korea, South Korean equipment supplier YEST recently announced receiving a KRW 12.3 billion order from Samsung for HBM compression equipment, destined for Samsung's Tianan packaging production line.
During its third-quarter 2023 earnings call, Samsung revealed plans to increase HBM production capacity by 2.5 times in 2024. Following this, Samsung invested KRW 10.5 billion to acquire part of the buildings and facilities from its subsidiary, Samsung Display (SDC), located at the Tianan factory.