Samsung plans to eliminate humans from its chip fabs by 2030 — push for full automation continues at full steam: Report

Samsung's Semiconductor Plant in Pyeongtaek, South Korea
(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Electronics has started the development of its "Smart Sensing System," which is designed to improve yields and transform the way its semiconductor fabs operate. The system is primarily designed to monitor and analyze the production process in real time and currently can automatically handle plasma uniformity. Eventually, Samsung plans to make its fabs fully automated and free of human labor by 2030, reports DigiTimes, citing ET News.

Samsung's ultimate goal is to have fully unmanned semiconductor production facilities by 2030. Achieving this will require developing systems that can manage large amounts of data and optimize equipment performance automatically. The Smart Sensing System is an important part of this plan and is expected to play a crucial role in making these intelligent, fully automated fabs a reality. Samsung is currently investing tens of millions of won into projects like smart sensors, hoping that its investments will pay off in the long run. 

The smart sensors currently under development are designed to measure the uniformity of plasma on wafers. This is crucial as the outcomes of processes such as etching, deposition, and cleaning in semiconductor manufacturing are significantly influenced by plasma uniformity, which is why accurate measurement and management of this aspect are essential. 

The development of this system was a team effort involving collaboration with partners and academic institutions. An important feature of these new sensors is their tiny size: they can fit into existing fabs and will not need extra space, which is precious in cleanrooms. 

It is noteworthy that the sensors were designed and manufactured in South Korea. South Korean chipmakers like Samsung have traditionally relied heavily on foreign tools for such advanced processes. Developing its own smart sensing systems marks a significant change as it somewhat reduces this reliance, even though the majority of tools used by Samsung continue to be produced outside of the country. 

Anton Shilov
Contributing Writer

Anton Shilov is a contributing writer at Tom’s Hardware. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • hannibal
    No worker strikes, no week ends or holiday breaks. Nice to hear that we humans are not needed anymore…
    Maybe i should buy Samsung stocks, the profit for cutting out workers goes to owners….
  • Mindstab Thrull
    I expect they will need *some* human staff to just make sure nothing goes wrong. For example, if a piece breaks, someone will need to come in and replace it, ideally with someone on hand. There might only be a dozen staff in the entire building but I think at this stage we still need a few bodies there.
    Also, what are those people going to do once the fans don't need bodies to work them anymore? It's a great idea in theory but then you'll have tens of not hundreds of thousands of people out of a job. If this was like Star Trek, they'd be free to pursue leisure activities or whereever their interests took them... but we're not there yet.

    Mindstab Thrull
    *looks up at Endrek Sahr* When's lunch?
  • 3tank
    Ahh...there's that "2030" I keep seeing over and over and over.
    Who's going to be buying their components when most people will be phased out of the work force?
  • 4m12020
    Sounds like a hacking liability to me.
  • ezst036
    A.I., automation - won't kill jobs, that's for sure.
  • seppukuwu
    I've worked in two different fabs now. I've worked in depth on and with every type of etch tool from all the major manufacturers and am currently a yield technician. All I can say is "lol, that's really cute". Typical upper management not knowing at all how the sausage is made in a everyday nuts and bolts sort of way. This is entirely unrealistic, and assuming it is implemented, what do you do when the sensors inevitably have some kind of failure and don't report it to the controlling system, because the failure happens in a central part of that software infrastructure? I shudder to think of it.
  • umeng2002_2
    But who will fix the robot?
  • Amdlova
    Wait for a sun flare and you see the mega bots
  • gamerk316
    4m12020 said:
    Sounds like a hacking liability to me.
    Only if exposed to the outside world.
  • Wayne645891
    Well I won’t be buying Samsung products anymore. If people are concerned about jobs then boycott Samsung and don’t buy there products. Hit them where it hurts money sales.