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Samsung Device Solutions Has a New Home

Samsung Device Solutions Has a New Home
by Paul McLellan on 09-30-2015 at 7:00 am

 Last week it was the formal opening of Samsung’s new office building in North San Jose. They have brought together all of semiconductor device solutions in a huge new office building. The building can hold 2000 people. Samsung Device Solutions consists of:

  • memory
  • system LSI
  • LED
  • display

Dr OH Kwan, the CEO of Samsung Electronics, gave some of the history. Samsung first came to Silicon Valley in 1983 over 30 years ago. Just to put the technology of that era into perspective, the state-of-the-art was an IBM PC-XT with 128K of DRAM (yes, kilobytes) and a 10MB disk drive. I believe it was the first personal computer that came with a hard disk, not just floppy drives. The cost was $5,000, about 10 times the cost of one of the Samsung Galaxies that seemed to be everywhere, and nowhere near the power or capacity.

The new building is ten stories high with 1.1 million square feet. It is shaped with a large atrium open to the sky and even a couple of the levels are designed to allow employees to be outside. There is even a putting green. Somehow Samsung had arranged for perfect weather. The building is mirrored and the bright blue sky and the white clouds made for a photogenic scene.

The building was constructed in just two years. There was Mike Rossi a special adviser to Governor Jerry Brown, and not just the current mayor of San Jose, Sam Ricardo, but the previous mayor, Chuck Reed, on whose watch the building was started. I was pleased that the politicians resisted the temptation to talk at excessive length. Finally, there was a performance by the dance/music group Eclipse.

Following that, the Samsung employees went off to the cafeteria, which is in a separate building, and the press was divided into groups and given a tour of the building. Our tour guide was Kelvin Low, who runs foundry marketing. He moved into the building a couple of weeks ago and can just about find his way around the building now. His office is on the top (10th) floor and since it is the highest building anywhere near the views are dramatic in all directions.

We got a quick tour of some of the engineering areas. The previous week at the flash memory summit Samsung had just announced a 16TB solid-state disk drive, the world’s largest. The progress since Samsung arrived here when 10MB was the state of the art is amazing, an increase in capacity of over a million times and probably around the same price. Isn’t Moore’s Law wonderful, I’m not quite sure how the world is going to look now that it is slowing down or stopping, and we won’t ever get a million-fold increase for the same price.

 One of the advantages of having a single large office building is that accidental meetings are much more likely to happen than when spread around a multi-building campus. The interior of the building has also been designed to make such fortuitous meetings still more likely, with various open areas, coffee rooms, a gym, the two levels open to the outside and so on.

In other Samsung news, that took a bit of the shine of the new building, there were reports that Samsung were cutting capex by 20% due to overcapacity. This is not entirely unexpected since Samsung is the biggest DRAM supplier which is often a sort of canary in the coalmine, signaling weakness early.