SK Hynix Pushing for Early Operation for the M16 Fab

Apr 10, 2020

SK Hynix is pushing to start operating its “M16” fab early that is currently being built in Icheon as its next-generation memory production base. It is understood that SK Hynix is looking into different ways of warehousing equipment earlier. It will be interesting whether the global memory semiconductor market can remain unaffected despite the fact the entire global industries are struggling due to COVID-19.
According to the industry, SK Hynix is currently discussing internally about a plan that will adjust the timing of warehousing equipment for the M16 fab that is scheduled for January of 2021 to this year.
“SK Hynix is looking into a plan that will push forward the timing of the construction of the M16 fab and warehousing of equipment.” said a representative for the industry. “SK Hynix is talking about pushing forward the timing of warehousing of equipment that is scheduled for next January or February to this year.”
The M16 fab is the latest semiconductor factory that is currently being built in 53,000m2 (equivalent to 5 soccer fields) land within SK Hynix’s Icheon Headquarters. SK Hynix is planning to produce 10nm DRAMs that will be SK Hynix’s next strategic products. It is also planning to apply the EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) process in order to maximize productivity.
It is heard that the M16 fab will initially produce 15,000 to 20,000 panels monthly based on 12-inch wafer input. It is expected that the fab will operate on full-scale in 2021 as SK Hynix looks to push forward the timing of warehousing and operation.
South Korea’s semiconductor industry is focusing on the fact that SK Hynix is pushing forward the timing of warehousing. because SK Hynix is considering this move despite the fact that the entire global industries are struggling due to COVID-19. Asa a result, some believe that SK Hynix is predicting that the forecast of the DRAM memory market will be positive despite COVID-19.

Complete view of SK Hynix’s Icheon campus (Reference: SK Hynix) <Complete view of SK Hynix’s Icheon campus (Reference: SK Hynix)>

Actually, it is heard that there has been an undersupply recently within the global DRAM market due to increased demands despite COVID-19. Amounts of inventories have fallen to a level where they will only last up to 2 to 3 weeks due to a huge increase in demands for server and data center DRAMs and there is even a possibility of shortage.
“Companies such as Naver and Kakao that are operating large-scale data centers are actively looking to purchase DRAMs.” said a representative for a semiconductor distributor.
It seems that increased demands globally due to telecommuting and online education as a result of COVID-19 is the reason why the global DRAM market is still in a good shape.
SK Hynix, which is the world’s second biggest DRAM maker, has recently resumed investing in necessary equipment and facilities. It decided to invest $2.65 billion (3.2 trillion KRW) in its fab in Wuxi. It is planning to bring in equipment to an unused space between July and September and produce DRAMs. Arimethically, SK Hynix’s monthly production capacity will increase to 40,000 to 50,000 units if it extends the Wuxi fab in the second half and bring in equipment for the M16 fab by end of this year.
Such plan can be negatively affected by setbacks to distribution and production that are results of the spread of COVID-19. “Just like how Lam Research shut down its fabs, there is a possibility that SK Hynix is rushing warehousing of equipment as there can be issues to its supply networks of equipment and parts.” said a representative for the industry.
“There are many uncertainties due to the spread of COVID-19.” said a representative for SK Hynix. “Although we are continuing to have discussions with our partners about the timing of warehousing, nothing has been confirmed yet.”
Staff Reporter Kang, Hyeryung | kang@etnews.com & Staff Reporter Yun, Geonil | benyun@etnews.com

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