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Samsung to Replace Intel as Top Semiconductor Supplier in Q2-2021: IC Insights

Samsung Electronics is expected to regain the distinction of the top semiconductor supplier for the 2nd quarter of 2021, re-taking the lead from Intel, according to a report by market research firm IC Insights. Samsung's growth rides on the back of a resurgent memory market, as the company supplies both DRAM and NAND flash of various types. This is also helped by the fact that Intel's sales in are expected to remain flat around the same period of time. This would be Samsung's return to the top spot for the first time since 2018, when memory prices crashed, sending down production, in a bid to better allow the channel to digest existing inventory.

SK hynix Inc. Reports First Quarter 2021 Results

SK hynix Inc. today announced financial results for its first quarter 2021 ended on March 31, 2021. The consolidated revenue of the first quarter 2021 was 8.494 trillion won while the operating profit amounted to 1.324 trillion won, and the net income 993 billion won. Operating margin for the quarter was 16% and net margin was 12%.

The Company made better results both QoQ and YoY in the first quarter as the semiconductor market conditions improved earlier this year. Although the first quarter is usually off-season of the semiconductor industry, the Company said that the market conditions improved as demand for memory products for PCs and mobiles increased. In addition, cost competitiveness has increased as yields of major products have improved. Through this, the revenue and the operating profit increased by 7% and 37%, respectively, compared to the previous quarter.

DRAM Prices Projected to Rise by 18-23% QoQ in 2Q21 Owing to Peak Season Demand, Says TrendForce

TrendForce's investigations find that DRAM suppliers and major PC OEMs are currently participating in the critical period of negotiating with each other over contract prices for 2Q21. Although these negotiations have yet to be finalized, the ASP of mainstream DDR4 1G*8 2666 Mbps modules has already increased by nearly 25% QoQ as of now, according to data on ongoing transactions. This represents a higher price hike than TrendForce's prior forecast of "nearly 20%". On the other hand, prices are likewise rising across various DRAM product categories in 2Q21, including DDR3/4 specialty DRAM, mobile DRAM, graphics DRAM, and in particular server DRAM, which is highly related to PC DRAM and is therefore also undergoing a higher price hike than previously expected. TrendForce is therefore revising up its forecast of overall DRAM price hike for 2Q21 from 13-18% QoQ to 18-23% QoQ instead. However, the actual increase in prices of various DRAM product categories will depend on the production capacities allocated to the respective products by DRAM suppliers.

GALAX Readies HOF-branded DDR5 Overclocking Memory

GALAX on Facebook announced that it is developing its next generation of DDR5 memory modules targeted at overclockers. The modules are possibly made under the HOF (Hall of Fame) brand, as the announcement comes from the company's OC Lab handle that markets its HOF series products. The announcement also comes with pictures of trays of DDR5 DRAM chips made by Micron Technology. With major DIY gaming/overclocking memory brands announcing development of DDR5 memory products, one wonders where the platforms for these memory modules are. It's rumored that Intel's upcoming 12th Gen Core "Alder Lake-S" processor in the LGA1700 package could feature a DDR5 memory interface. AMD's first client-desktop platform with DDR5 would see the transition to the new AM5 socket.

Engineers Upgrade Soldered Components on Apple M1 Mac Mini

The Apple M1 processor features integrated memory directly on the chip to reduce latency, power, and size. While this design may be good for the overall user experience it does not bode well for upgradability requiring users to pay up for a more expensive model. Some Chinese engineers have recently shown how it is possible to upgrade the soldered memory and storage components given you have the time, skills, and money. The DRAM and NAND chips are soldered to the M1 chip and motherboard but can be removed and replaced with higher capacity chips using a specialty soldering station. The engineers upgraded the base model M1 Mac Mini with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage to 16 GB RAM and 1 TB storage. The upgrade didn't require firmware modifications according to the source which is very impressive if true.

Micron Technology Reports Results for the Second Quarter of Fiscal 2021

Micron Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: MU) today announced results for its second quarter of fiscal 2021, which ended March 4, 2021. "Micron's strong fiscal second quarter performance reflects rapidly improving market conditions and continued solid execution," said Micron Technology President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra. "Our technology leadership in both DRAM and NAND places Micron in an excellent position to capitalize on the secular demand driven by AI and 5G, and to deliver new levels of user experience and innovation across the data center and intelligent edge."

SK Hynix to Build $106 Billion Mega Factory in South Korea

Today, we are getting a report coming from the South Korean press, stating that the country of South Korea has just given SK Hynix the green light to start building the mega factory complex. Being in the planning phase for a long time, the new mega factory is going to be located in Yongin, a city set 50 km south of the capital Seoul. The company expects to break ground with construction in Q4 of this year, and finish everything and start volume production of DRAM in 2025. When it comes to the size of the new mega factory, the plant is going to have an area of ​​4.15 million square meters.

The total cost of it will be about $106 billion worth of investment from SK Hynix, making all the recent fab construction plans look tiny compared to this massive investment. The mega factory complex would consist out of four fabs, where their total wafer per month output would be around 800,000. These foundries will be in charge of producing regular DRAM, and next-generation DRAM technologies like we have talked about just a few days ago. It remains to be seen what the company will come out with in the future, however, we are watching its moves closely.
SK Hynix Foundry

HyperX Sets DDR4 Memory Overclocking World Record at 7156 MHz

HyperX, the gaming division of Kingston Technology Company, Inc. and brand leader in gaming and esports, today announced that HyperX Predator DDR4 memory was used to set a new overclocking world record for the fastest DDR4 memory frequency at 7156 MHz. The world record for highest frequency was set by the MSI OC Team in Taiwan using a HyperX 4600 MHz Predator DDR4 8G module (part number: HX446C19PB3K2/16) on an MSI MEG Z590I UNIFY motherboard using a 11th Gen Intel Core i9-11900KF @ 3.50 GHz CPU. At the time of this release, the record breaking frequency is posted on HWBOT, the site for PC enthusiasts looking for news, tips and information on overclocking, benchmarks and competitions. The valid CPU-Z screenshot can be found here.

"We are extremely thrilled and humbled to be part of this exemplary DDR4 overclocking achievement," said Kristy Ernt, DRAM business manager, HyperX. "Our engineers work continuously to improve higher-speed memory yields to bring faster solutions by pushing boundaries that break performance records and bring best-in-class products to our gaming memory community."

SMART Modular Announces New Memory Solutions for Data Center Networking Applications

SMART Modular Technologies, a subsidiary of SMART Global Holdings, Inc., (Nasdaq: SGH), has expanded its support for data center networking applications with the introduction of DuraMemory high-density, very low profile DIMMs and Mini-DIMMs for hyperscale network switching. These products are ideal for maximizing network bandwidth and reliability, which is critical to data center networking requirements.

Network memory dictates the amount of data stored or transferred in switching and routing equipment. Low density as well as poor quality memory can disrupt the performance of a network by acting as a bottleneck to data transfer. The rating and attributes of memory can also greatly affect data center network's overall efficiency.

Team T-FORCE Gaming Launches the Next-Gen with Overclockable DDR5 Memory

TEAMGROUP has worked vigorously on the development of next-generation DDR5 memory. After completing validation tests for standard DDR5 U-DIMM and SO-DIMM products with the collaboration of major motherboard manufacturers, TEAMGROUP is announcing an exciting breakthrough today: its T-FORCE brand has successfully created DDR5 overclocking memory. Samples were immediately sent to ASUS, ASRock, MSI, and GIGABYTE for collaborative testing of its overclocking capability. Consumers can expect TEAMGROUP's products to be fully compatible with motherboards from the four major manufacturers when the DDR5 generation arrives.

The DDR5 overclocking memory has greater room for voltage adjustment, due to its upgraded power management IC. This PMIC can support high frequency overclocking with voltage over 2.6 V. In previous generations, voltage conversion was controlled by the motherboard. With DDR5, components were moved to the memory, enabling the module to handle the voltage conversion, which not only reduces voltage wear but also reduces noise generation. This allows significantly increased room for overclocking compared to the past, and more powerful computing processing.

Samsung Develops Industry's First HKMG-Based DDR5 Memory; Ideal for Bandwidth-Intensive Advanced Computing Applications

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has expanded its DDR5 DRAM memory portfolio with the industry's first 512 GB DDR5 module based on High-K Metal Gate (HKMG) process technology. Delivering more than twice the performance of DDR4 at up to 7,200 megabits per second (Mbps), the new DDR5 will be capable of orchestrating the most extreme compute-hungry, high-bandwidth workloads in supercomputing, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as well as data analytics applications.

"Samsung is the only semiconductor company with logic and memory capabilities and the expertise to incorporate HKMG cutting-edge logic technology into memory product development," said Young-Soo Sohn, Vice President of the DRAM Memory Planning/Enabling Group at Samsung Electronics. "By bringing this type of process innovation to DRAM manufacturing, we are able to offer our customers high-performance, yet energy-efficient memory solutions to power the computers needed for medical research, financial markets, autonomous driving, smart cities and beyond."

SK Hynix Envisions the Future: 600-Layer 3D NAND and EUV-made DRAM

On March 22nd, the CEO of SK Hynix, Seok-Hee Lee, gave a keynote speech to the IEEE International Reliability Physics Symposium (IRPS) and shared with experts a part of its plan for the future of SK Hynix products. The CEO took the stage and delivered some conceptual technologies that the company is working on right now. At the center of the show, two distinct products stood out - 3D NAND and DRAM. So far, the company has believed that its 3D NAND scaling was very limited and that it can push up to 500 layers sometime in the future before the limit is reached. However, according to the latest research, SK Hynix will be able to produce 600-layer 3D NAND technology in the distant future.

So far, the company has managed to manufacture and sample 512Gb 176-layer 3D NAND chips, so the 600-layer solutions are still far away. Nonetheless, it is a possibility that we are looking at. Before we reach that layer number, there are various problems needed to be solved so the technology can work. According to SK Hynix, "the company introduced the atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology to further improve the cell property of efficiently storing electric charges and exporting them when needed, while developing technology to maintain uniform electric charges over a certain amount through the innovation of dielectric materials. In addition to this, to solve film stress issues, the mechanical stress levels of films is controlled and the cell oxide-nitride (ON) material is being optimized. To deal with the interference phenomenon between cells and charge loss that occur when more cells are stacked at a limited height, SK Hynix developed the isolated-charge trap nitride (isolated-CTN) structure to enhance reliability."

TrendForce: Consumer DRAM Pricing to Increase 20% in 2Q2021 Due to Increased Demand

According to TrendForce, we technology enthusiasts will have other rising prices to contend with throughout 2021, adding to the already ballooning discrete GPU and latest-gen CPUs from the leading manufacturer. The increased demand due to the COVID pandemic stretched the usual stocks to their limits, and due to the tremendous, multiple-month lead times between semiconductor orders and their fulfillment from manufacturers, the entire supply infrastructure was spread too thin for the increased worldwide needs. This leads to increased component pricing, which in turn leads to higher ASP pricing for DRAM. Adding to that equation, of course, is the fact that companies are now more careful, and are placing bigger orders so as to be able to weather these sudden demand changes.

TrendForce says that DRAM pricing has already increased 3-8% in 1Q2021, and that market adjustments will lead to an additional increase somewhere between 13-18% for contract pricing. Server pricing is projected to increase by 20%; graphics DRAM is expected to increase 10-15% in the same time-span, thus giving us that strange stomach churn that comes from having to expect even further increases in graphics card end-user pricing; and overall DRAM pricing for customers is expected to increase by 20% due to the intensifying shortages. What a time to be a system builder.

Longsys Launches DDR5 Memory and Publishes Test Data

Longsys Electronics launches the Longsys DDR5 memory module (ES1). The company has done so in order to keep up with the development of storage technologies, to meet expectations from industry professionals and users regarding future product technology development, and to provide more possibilities for the future of storage industry applications. Moreover, Longsys' FORESEE, a technical storage brand, and Lexar, a storage brand for high-end consumer goods, will also provide strong support in their main areas of application.

The newly-launched DDR5 involves the prototypes of two new architecture products: the 1-Rank x8, and the 2-Rank x8 standard PC Unbuffered DIMM 288PIN On-die-ECC. Compared with DDR4, DDR5 boasts significantly improved function and performance.

Thermaltake Outs ToughRAM XG RGB DDR4 Memory

Thermaltake today introduced the ToughRAM XG RGB line of DDR4 memory kits. The series debuts in 16 GB (2x 8 GB) dual-channel memory kits, with frequency-based variants of DDR4-3600, DDR4-4000, DDR4-4400, and DDR4-4600. The top DDR4-4600 kit (R016D408GX2-4600C19A) does its rated frequency with timings of 19-26-26-45, and 1.5 V DRAM voltage. The DDR4-4400 kit (R016D408GX2-4400C19A) runs at slightly tighter timings of 19-25-25-45, and 1.45 V. The DDR4-4000 kit (R016D408GX2-4000C19A) ticks at 19-23-23-42, with 1.35 V. At the same voltage, the DDR4-3600 kit (R016D408GX2-3600C18A) does 18-19-19-39.

Visually, the ToughRAM XG RGB module features a chunky aluminium heatspreader design with three distinct design tones, and three silicone addressable-RGB diffusers that hide 16 ARGB diodes. You can control the lighting using Thermaltake's NeonMaker app, or pretty much any ARGB control software, including Razer Chroma. Thermaltake guarantees advertised speeds on Intel X299, Z490, Z390, Z370, Z270, and Z170 chipset motherboards when paired with K-series processors; or AMD X570 and B550 motherboards with Ryzen 3000 "Matisse" or 5000 "Vermeer" processors. The modules are backed by lifetime warranties. The company didn't reveal pricing.

SK Hynix Begins Mass-Production of 18-Gigabyte LPDDR5 Mobile DRAM Chips

SK hynix Inc announced that it has started mass-production of 18 GB (gigabyte) LPDDR5 mobile DRAM, which offers the largest capacity in the industry. This product will be equipped in premium smartphones to support an optimal environment for games with high resolution image and also high quality videos. SK hynix also expects that application will continue expanding to include the latest technologies, including ultra-high-performance camera applications and artificial intelligence (AI).

"This product will improve the processing speed and image quality by expanding the data temporary storage space, as the capacity increases compared to the previous 16 GB product," an official from the company said. The new product runs at up to 6,400 Mbps (megabits-per-second), around 20% faster than the mobile DRAM (LPDDR5 with 5,500 Mbps) for existing smartphones, a data rate that is capable of transferring ten 5 GB FHD (Full-HD) movies per second.

DRAM Revenue for 4Q20 Undergoes Modest 1.1% Increase QoQ in Light of Continued Rising Shipment and Falling Prices, Says TrendForce

Global DRAM revenue reached US$17.65 billion, a 1.1% increase YoY, in 4Q20, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. For the most part, this growth took place because Chinese smartphone brands, including Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi, expanded their procurement activities for components in order to seize the market shares made available after Huawei was added to the Entity List by the U.S. Department of Commerce. These procurement activities in turn provided upward momentum for DRAM suppliers' bit shipment. However, clients in the server segment were still in the middle of inventory adjustments during this period, thereby placing downward pressure on DRAM prices. As a result, revenues of most DRAM suppliers, except for Micron, remained somewhat unchanged in 4Q20 compared to 3Q20. Micron underwent a noticeable QoQ decline in 4Q20 (which Micron counts as its fiscal 1Q21), since Micron had fewer work weeks during this period compared to the previous quarter.

Intel Rolls Out SSD 670p Mainstream NVMe SSD Series

Intel today rolled out the SSD 670p series, a new line of M.2 NVMe SSDs that are targeted at the mainstream segment. Built in the M.2-2280 form-factor with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 host-interface, the drive implements Intel's latest 144-layer 3D QLC NAND flash memory, mated with a re-badged Silicon Motion SM2265G 8-channel controller that uses a fixed 256 MB DDR3L DRAM cache across all capacity variants. It comes in capacities of 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB.

The 1 TB and 2 TB variants offer sequential read speeds of up to 3500 MB/s, while the 512 GB variant reads at up to 3000 MB/s. Sequential write speeds vary, with the 512 GB variant writing at up to 1600 MB/s, the 1 TB variant at up to 2500 MB/s, and the 2 TB variant at up to 2700 MB/s. The drives offer significantly higher endurance than past generations of QLC-based drives, with the 512 GB variant capable of up to 185 TBW, the 1 TB variant up to 370 TBW, and the 2 TB variant up to 740 TBW. Intel is backing the drives with 5-year warranties. The 512 GB variant is priced at $89, the 1 TB variant at $154, and the 2 TB variant at $329.

Western Digital Unveils Entry-level WD Green SN350 M.2 NVMe SSDs

Western Digital announced the new WD Green SN350 series of entry-level M.2 NVMe SSDs. These drives are positioned a notch below the WD Blue SN550 (mid-range), while the WD Black SN850 remains the company's current flagship client SSD product. The WD Green SN350 comes in capacities of 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB. The company didn't detail the underlying architecture, but the drive features PCI-Express 3.0 x4 host interface, and likely features a 4-channel controller architecture. It also appears to feature DRAM cache.

All three capacity variants of the WD Green SN350 offer sequential read speeds of up to 2,400 MB/s. The 240 GB variant offers sequential writes of up to 900 MB/s, the 480 GB variant up to 1,650 MB/s, and the 960 GB variant up to 1,900 MB/s. The company didn't detail the NAND flash type, or endurance numbers. It's backing these drives with 3-year warranties. The 240 GB variant is priced at USD $43.99, the 480 GB variant $54.99, and the 960 GB variant $99.99.

Samsung Develops Industry's First High Bandwidth Memory with AI Processing Power

Samsung Electronics, the world leader in advanced memory technology, today announced that it has developed the industry's first High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) processing power—the HBM-PIM. The new processing-in-memory (PIM) architecture brings powerful AI computing capabilities inside high-performance memory, to accelerate large-scale processing in data centers, high performance computing (HPC) systems and AI-enabled mobile applications.

Kwangil Park, senior vice president of Memory Product Planning at Samsung Electronics stated, "Our groundbreaking HBM-PIM is the industry's first programmable PIM solution tailored for diverse AI-driven workloads such as HPC, training and inference. We plan to build upon this breakthrough by further collaborating with AI solution providers for even more advanced PIM-powered applications."

Apple Patents Multi-Level Hybrid Memory Subsystem

Apple has today patented a new approach to how it uses memory in the System-on-Chip (SoC) subsystem. With the announcement of the M1 processor, Apple has switched away from the traditional Intel-supplied chips and transitioned into a fully custom SoC design called Apple Silicon. The new designs have to integrate every component like the Arm CPU and a custom GPU. Both of these processors need good memory access, and Apple has figured out a solution to the problem of having both the CPU and the GPU accessing the same pool of memory. The so-called UMA (unified memory access) represents a bottleneck because both processors share the bandwidth and the total memory capacity, which would leave one processor starving in some scenarios.

Apple has patented a design that aims to solve this problem by combining high-bandwidth cache DRAM as well as high-capacity main DRAM. "With two types of DRAM forming the memory system, one of which may be optimized for bandwidth and the other of which may be optimized for capacity, the goals of bandwidth increase and capacity increase may both be realized, in some embodiments," says the patent, " to implement energy efficiency improvements, which may provide a highly energy-efficient memory solution that is also high performance and high bandwidth." The patent got filed way back in 2016 and it means that we could start seeing this technology in the future Apple Silicon designs, following the M1 chip.

Update 21:14 UTC: We have been reached out by Mr. Kerry Creeron, an attorney with the firm of Banner & Witcoff, who provided us with additional insights about the patent. Mr. Creeron has provided us with his personal commentary about it, and you can find Mr. Creeron's quote below.

ZenTimings is a Nifty Little Memory Info Tool for AMD Ryzen

ZenTimings by Ivan Rusanov is a tiny (< 500 KB download) app that lets you monitor your machine's memory timings in a really neat user-interface. The app works with all generations of AMD Ryzen processors, as well as Athlon processors based on the "Zen" microarchitectures. Besides timings, you also get basic info about the main clock domains that affect memory, such as memory clock (DDR), MCLK, UCLK, FCLK; relevant voltage readouts. This simple app is completely free, and open-source, if you'd like to inspect the code. The latest version v1.2.2 adds PHYWRD, PHYWRL, PHYRDL and PowerDown reading, DRAM and VTT readings, and the latest AMD "Dali" APUs. If you like the app, consider contributing to Rusanov on his website, in the source link below.

DOWNLOAD: ZenTimings by Ivan Rusanov v1.2.2
The change-log follows.

Micron Technology Reports Results for the First Quarter of Fiscal 2021

Micron Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: MU) today announced results for its first quarter of fiscal 2021, which ended Dec. 3, 2020. "Micron delivered outstanding fiscal first quarter results, driven by focused execution and strong end-market demand," said Micron Technology President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra. "We are excited about the strengthening DRAM industry fundamentals. For the first time in our history, Micron is simultaneously leading on DRAM and NAND technologies, and we are in an excellent position to benefit from accelerating digital transformation of the global economy fueled by AI, 5G, cloud, and the intelligent edge."

ADATA Gearing up to Launch Next-Gen DDR5 Memory Modules

ADATA Technology, a manufacturer of high-performance DRAM modules, NAND Flash products, mobile accessories, gaming products, electric power trains, and industrial solutions, is gearing up to bring next-generation DDR5 memory modules to market to offers users a significant upgrade in speed, capacity, as well as increased bandwidth per CPU cores. ADATA has been working closely with two leading motherboard makers, MSI and Gigabyte, to ensure an optimized experience through ensuring synergies between ADATA's DDR5 modules and their latest Intel platforms.

In parallel to developing the new memory modules, ADATA has also been working closely with two leading motherboard makers MSI and Gigabyte, its long-term strategic partners, to ensure their new platforms can take full advantage of DDR5. Among other initiatives, ADATA, MSI, and Gigabyte have been conducting joint testing and research to guarantee optimum DDR5 overclocking on the latest Intel platforms to meet gamers' discerning standards. ADATA and the motherboard above makers will be launching DDR5 modules and DDR5-compliant motherboards simultaneously to offer high performance to a wide range of users, including enterprises, gamers, and creators, to name a few.

Linus Torvalds Calls Out Intel for ECC Memory Market Stagnation

Linus Torvalds, the inventor of the Linux kernel and version-control system called git, has posted another one of his famous rants, addressing his views about the lack of ECC memory in consumer devices. Mr. Torvalds has posted his views on the Linux kernel mailing list, where he usually comments about the development of the kernel. The ECC or Error Correcting Code memory is a special kind of DRAM that fixes the problems that occur inside the memory itself, where a bit can get corrupted and change the data stored, thus offering false results. ECC aims to fix those mistakes by implementing a system that fixes these small errors and avoids bigger problems. According to Mr. Torvalds, it is a technology that we need to be implemented everywhere, not just server space like Intel imagines.
Linus Torvalds
Intel has been instrumental in killing the whole ECC industry with it's horribly bad market segmentation... Intel has been detrimental to the whole industry and to users because of their bad and misguided policies wrt ECC. Seriously...The arguments against ECC were always complete and utter garbage... Now even the memory manufacturers are starting do do ECC internally because they finally owned up to the fact that they absolutely have to. And the memory manufacturers claim it's because of economics and lower power. And they are lying bastards - let me once again point to row-hammer about how those problems have existed for several generations already, but these f***** happily sold broken hardware to consumers and claimed it was an "attack", when it always was "we're cutting corners".
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