Samsung Appoints Veteran Amid AI Chip Challenges

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This shake-up, effective immediately, sees Young Hyun Jun transitioning from his role in future business planning to tackle the booming demand for high-end AI chips.

Samsung Electronics has appointed Young Hyun Jun as the new chief of its semiconductor division, effective immediately, amid challenges in the booming market for AI chips. Kye Hyun Kyung, who has led the semiconductor division since 2022, will now head the future business planning unit.They announced Jun’s shift from his previous role as head of the future business planning unit. Analysts suggest this move aims to help Samsung catch up in the market for high-end chips used in artificial intelligence, particularly high bandwidth memory (HBM) chips, where Samsung has lagged behind competitors like SK Hynix.

The company stated that this change will enhance future competitiveness by renewing internal and external dynamics. According to data provider TrendForce, in the fourth quarter of last year, Samsung held a 45.5% market share in DRAM chips used in tech devices. However, it has fallen behind in the HBM chip segment, where SK Hynix dominates more than 90% of the mainstream HBM3 market. HBM3 is the fourth-generation HBM standard widely used in AI chipsets, such as those made by industry leader Nvidia.

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Jun, 63, previously led the company’s memory chip business from 2014 to 2017 and was the CEO of battery arm Samsung SDI from 2017 to 2022. While at Samsung SDI, he oversaw a U.S. electric vehicle battery joint venture with automaker Stellantis. The company expressed confidence in Jun’s ability to address the chip crisis, citing his extensive management experience. They has been slow to respond to the rising demand for memory chips used in AI chipsets, which are priced higher but constitute a smaller portion of the DRAM market by shipments.

Replacing a high-ranking position mid-year is unusual, as the company typically makes personnel changes at the beginning of the year, analysts noted. “The chip division has been lagging in various areas, including high-density DRAM, NAND products, and foundry services compared to TSMC,” said analyst Lee Min-hee at BNK Investment & Securities. “It also missed much of the global AI upward trend,” Lee added. At the company’s annual meeting in March, former chip division head Kyung had assured that the company is now better prepared to avoid past missteps in the HBM market.

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