Samsung, the world's largest memory chip maker, expects the demand for chips to grow despite concerns related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. The company discussed its expectations about chip sales during its annual shareholder meeting that was held earlier today at Suwon Convention Center in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province in South Korea.
Kim Ki-Nam, who leads Samsung's device solutions arm, said that there are uncertainties in the market due to the pandemic, but he still expects the global chip demand to grow this year. The reason behind this confidence is the exponential growth of the AI (artificial intelligence) and the automotive market. Increased investments in the data center and 5G markets will also drive the demand for chips.
For memory chips, the company expects the market to stabilize compared to last year due to the investments it made in upgrading its production lines to newer and more power-efficient process nodes. Samsung's earnings from the chip business were weak last year due to a slump in the market. The semiconductor business earned $51 billion last year, which was down 25% compared to the previous year. The operating profit was down by a whopping 68.5% compared to 2018's numbers.
The company plans to start the mass production of 5nm chips by the end of this year and then solidify the development of 3nm chip production technologies. Samsung also plans to invest in the development and production of 5G SoCs and high-resolution camera sensors. It says that the smartphone industry will see decreased sales due to COVID-19, but it still wants to make more 5G phones this year.