Samsung and SK Hynix open a new era of “EUV DRAM”, will the oligopoly pattern of the memory market face great changes?

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The Korean semiconductor industry is preparing for a new leap, and global DRAM market leaders Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are about to usher in the “EUV DRAM” era.
Samsung: The world’s first EUV DRAM mobile product is about to be mass-produced

According to South Korean technology media ETNews, Samsung Electronics’ new semiconductor factory “Pyeongtaek No. 2” (P2) started operations last month. field) will produce the world’s first EUV-based mobile DRAM products.

It is understood that EUV DRAM is a new mobile DRAM product developed by Samsung Electronics based on the 16Gb LPDDR5 DRAM of the third-generation 10nm (1z) process. /s) 16% faster. And when the DRAM is made into a 16GB package, it can process a 51.2GB file in one second, equivalent to 10 Full HD movies (5GB).

It is worth noting that in terms of production process, Samsung has finally successfully introduced EUV lithography technology. EUV is a short light source with a wavelength of 13.5 nanometers, about one-tenth the wavelength of the ArF light source widely used today, and is capable of scribing finer circuits on semiconductor wafers. By simplifying the semiconductor manufacturing process, EUV is able to halve the lithography process required to make fine circuits and dramatically increase productivity.

According to a Samsung Electronics spokesman previously told Digitimes, the 1a process using EUV is twice as productive as the 1x process based on 12-inch wafers.

However, the EUV lithography machine is expensive, with a single unit reaching 129 million US dollars, which requires huge investment, and EUV lithography technology also has high technical barriers. Therefore, Samsung Electronics’ decision to commercialize EUV DRAM is not without boldness. After applying the technology to 10nm-class (1x) process DRAM in March of this year, Samsung has the ability to apply the technology to its third-generation 1z process DRAM.

The next goal for Samsung Electronics is to apply the technology to its next-generation product – DRAM on the fourth-generation 10nm-class (1a) process. The company plans to develop fourth-generation 10nm-class DRAM and seventh-generation V-NAND memory sometime next year, Kim Ki-nam, vice chairman of the company, said at a shareholder meeting in March this year. Mass production of the fourth-generation 10nm-class DRAM.

The two giants may promote the drastic changes in the DRAM market, and EUV has become the biggest X factor

SK Hynix has also accelerated its mass production plan for EUV DRAM products based on the 1a process. The company’s Future Technology Research Institute has set up an EUV lithography working group, which is studying the necessary technologies required for EUV lithography, such as lithography, etching and mask manufacturing, with the goal of applying the EUV process to 1a DRAM production early next year , while establishing a roadmap for the completion of 1b EUV DRAM development in 2022.

According to ETNews, SK Hynix will mass-produce EUV DRAM at its next-generation DRAM production base, the M16 chip factory. Two EUV lithography machines have been installed in the park. Once the construction of the M16 factory is completed as planned by the end of this year, SK hynix will start building the necessary facilities and equipment related to EUV lithography at the M16 factory.

Experts predict that SK Hynix will, like Samsung Electronics, apply the EUV process at a level that is difficult to achieve with ArF lithography machines. There are other claims that SK Hynix has secured a considerable EUV DRAM production level.

The latest data shows that Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and Micron account for about 94% of the global DRAM market, of which Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix account for about 74%. Of the three companies, only Micron has yet to introduce EUV technology in its products, and it is reported that it is seeking to use its existing lithography technology to meet demand as much as possible.

ETNews believes that Samsung Electronics and Hynix are seeking to achieve differentiation through their own EUV DRAM technology, which may lead to changes in the oligopolistic structure of the market, which is unlikely to change. EUV DRAM will further widen the gap between Korean semiconductor companies and Chinese semiconductor companies.

According to the report of the Export-Import Bank of Korea on the status and forecast of China’s semiconductor industry, it is believed that there is a 5-year gap between South Korea and China’s DRAM technology. The report also pointed out that due to the high cost of EUV equipment and limited supply capacity, South Korean companies will likely establish a greater advantage in competition with Chinese companies.

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