SK Hynix is going to mass-produce 10-nano-range DRAMs in 2017 and this will be the world’s second mass-production of 10-nano-range DRAMs followed by Samsung Electronics. At the same time when it is finished with development of 1x DRAM, it is going to start developing 1y DRAM and also build up its competitive edge for the future by establishing a development team for 1z DRAM.
According to an industry on the 14th, SK Hynix is preparing for mass-production of 1x DRAM, which has a project name of Alius. It already manufactured a prototype of wafer and is going through a final test for credibility of its product. Usually types of prototypes that come out from development of semiconductors are divided into ES (Engineering Sample) and CS (Customer Sample). CS is a sample that fixes certain problems that arise from ES. Development of a product can be seen as finished when CS passes a credibility test. In order to push forward timing of mass-production of 1x DRAM, it is heard that SK Hynix is going to put out CS immediately for a credibility test and this indicates that it has succeeded in developing 1x DRAM.
SK Hynix is going to bring in some supplementary equipment to its M14 facility, which is located in Icheon, during first quarter of next year and prepare for mass-production. It is going to start mass-producing 1x DRAMs in second quarter of next year.
Industries believe that technical gap between Samsung electronics and SK Hynix is about 1 year and 6 months apart based on 2z DRAM. However if SK Hynix starts mass-producing 1x DRAMs in second quarter of next year, this gap will be narrowed to about 1 year and 3 months. Samsung Electronics started mass-producing 1x DRAMs in first quarter of this year.

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<SK Hynix’s M14 facility in Icheon>

SK Hynix is planning to narrow this gap by increasing the speed of development of 1y and 1z DRAM. While speeding up a process of development of 1y DRAM with a project name of ‘Davinci’, it is also going to start working on development of 1z DRAM with a project name of ‘Rigel’. Usually when memory industries finish developing a product, they develop next two generation products at the same time. This is so called ‘+2’ strategy. It is heard that Micron has not even started mass-producing 2z DRAM yet. If SK Hynix speeds up its process of development of 1y and 1z DRAMs, it will be able to narrow technical gap between itself and Samsung Electronics while the gap between itself and Micron will become wider.
Goal of SK Hynix can be seen from names of its projects. Alius, which is a project name for development of 1x DRAM, means a ‘different word’ in Latin. When 10-nano-range DRAM is compared to 20-nano-range DRAM, innovation of a structure of a memory cell is needed in order to solve a problem regarding leakage of currents and to secure capability of a capacitor that saves charges. Project name of Alius holds SK Hynix’s goal of overcoming technical limitations and creating another different memory world. Davinci is an Italian artist who represents the Renaissance. SK Hynix has used such project name with a hope that 1y DRAM will be a technical generation that will lead SK Hynix’s Renaissance. Rigel is a blue supergiant star that is located in Orion. SK Hynix chose Rigel to be the project name of development of 1z DRAM with a hope that it will become the brightest technical generation out of DRAM history.
“If SK Hynix also prepares a system for mass-production of 1x DRAMs, technical gap between South Korea and the U.S. will increase to 1 to 2 years.” said a representative for an industry.
Stock markets are estimating that SK Hynix’s performance in 2017 will be its biggest ever. There is a stock firm that estimates that SK Hynix’s yearly operating profit will be $5.14 billion (6 trillion KRW) due to continuous increased trend of memory markets and smooth development of technologies.
Staff Reporter Han, Juyeop |