SK Hynix to Start Using 2nd Gen 10nm DRAM Process Technology in 2H 2019

As part of their Q1’19 earnings announcement, SK Hynix has disclosed that the company will both increase its output of DRAM made using its 1st generation 10 nm-class manufacturing process (aka 1X nm), and will start to sell DRAMs made using its 2nd generation 10 nm-class fabrication technology (aka 1Y nm) in the second half of this year. The accelerated transition to 10 nm-class technologies will enable the company to increase DRAM bits output, cut its costs eventually, and prepare for next-gen types of memory.

The first products to be made using SK Hynix’s 1Y nm production technology will be its 8 Gb DDR4-3200 memory chips. The maker said that the new process allowed it to shrink die size of an 8 Gb DDR4 device by 20% and reduce its power consumption by 15% when compared to a similar device made using its 1X nm fabrication technology. Furthermore, SK Hynix’s upcoming 8 Gb DDR4-3200 chips feature two vital improvements: a 4-Phase Clocking scheme as well as the Sense Amplifier Control technology. The 4-Phase Clocking increases signal strength to sustain stability at high data transfer rates. Meanwhile, the SAC reduces likelihood of data errors that may occur when transistor sizes shrink.

While the said technologies will be important even this year for DDR4, SK Hynix will reportedly use its 1Y nm fabrication process to make DDR5, LPDDR5, and GDDR6 DRAMs. Therefore, it is crucial for the company to ramp up its 2nd generation 10 nm-class manufacturing technology as soon as possible to prepare for the future. Moreover, SAC will be important for next-gen process technologies as well.

SK Hynix has been rather slow with its transition to 10 nm-class DRAM manufacturing technologies. Micron and Samsung have been shipping products made using their 2nd generation 10 nm-class fabrication processes since 2018, whereas SK Hynix was struggling with its 1st gen 10 nm-class technology for DRAMs until fairly recently. Meanwhile, it looks like SK Hynix’s 2nd generation 10 nm-class fabrication technology is on-track to be used for commercial products in the second half of 2019.

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Sources: SK Hynix, TrendForce

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