[EDITORIALS]A chip and a promise

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[EDITORIALS]A chip and a promise

In the semiconductor industry, Samsung Electronics Co. has been relentless in its pursuit of greatness. The company, the world’s largest computer memory chipmaker, announced yesterday it had developed the world’s first 32-gigabit NAND flash memory chip based on 40-nanometer technology. In 1999, it first developed a 256-megabit NAND flash memory, and Samsung has doubled its capacity every year since. The latest chip is the size of a thumbnail, and 10 of those chips have enough memory to hold the information in 2.2 million books at the National Assembly Library. We can literally have an entire library in our grip.
The company said the economic effects would also be significant, with the NAND flash market expected to generate 250 trillion won ($261 billion) in sales over the next decade. The latest technology is also expected to form the foundation for further improvements in computer, cell phone and MP3 player manufacturing. It is almost a shock that we can see the terabit, 1,000 times a gigabit, in the not-so-distant future.
What’s more surprising than the actual development is that Samsung Electronics accomplished it under unfavorable business conditions. Overseas, Korean firms have had to fend off challenges from Chinese and Indian rivals, and won-dollar exchange rates and international oil prices have not helped either. Anti-corporate sentiment is still prevalent in Korea, and government restrictions remain firmly in place.
Since we do not have a wealth of natural resources, we need to rely on exports. For mid- to low-priced items, we have long fallen behind China and Southeast Asian nations; we need to focus on developing high value-added products based on sophisticated technology. In some other sectors, we still trail companies from developed nations by a big margin. Continuous development of technology is the only way to survive. The harsh reality is that a top-notch chip producer like Intel, having failed in its reforms, has to cut as many as 10,000 employees in restructuring efforts. We hope that, in light of Samsung’s breakthrough, other companies are reminded that without technology, they would simply not survive, and that they have some sense of urgency and entrepreneurial spirit.
Only with healthy companies can we expect more job creation. The government must stop the nonsense that public welfare, not the economy, is the problem, and quickly abolish regulations that limit corporate investment and make policy more predictable.
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