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Chip industry rebounds despite coronavirus woes

Memory chip production line (SK hynix)
Memory chip production line (SK hynix)

The semiconductor industry, bellwether for the South Korean economy, showed signs of recovery last month, despite the aggravating coronavirus woes, according to various indicators Tuesday.

The country’s total chip exports grew 9.4 percent to $7.42 billion in February compared to the same month last year, data by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy showed.

It was the first on-year growth in silicon exports in 15 months.

In spite of the extended Chinese Lunar New Year holiday last month due to the fast spread of the virus across China, Korea’s chip exports to the country surged 20 percent on-year, the data showed.

Market prices of DRAM, the most widely used chip type, have also been on the rise in recent months after a yearlong streak of decline.

The price of 8-gigabit DDR4 used for PCs averaged $2.88 in February, up 1.4 percent from the previous month, according to DRAMeXchnage. The 32-gigabyte DRAM for servers was $115.5, up 6 percent during the same period.

The global spread of the novel coronavirus seems to have helped the chip industry’s recovery, some financial analysts said.

“Demand for server DRAM was driven up by the latest trend of working from home amid the COVID-19 outbreak and expansion of data centers in North America,” cited a report by Daishin Securities.

By Song Su-hyun (