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SK Hynix Licenses DBI Ultra 3D Interconnect Technology

Xperi Corporation today announced that it entered into a new patent and technology license agreement with SK hynix, one of the world's largest semiconductor manufacturers. The agreement includes access to Xperi's broad portfolio of semiconductor intellectual property (IP) and a technology transfer of Invensas DBI Ultra 3D interconnect technology focused on next-generation memory.

"We are delighted to announce the extension of our long-standing relationship with SK hynix, a world-renowned technology leader and manufacturer of memory solutions," said Craig Mitchell, President of Invensas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation. "As the industry increasingly looks beyond conventional node scaling and turns toward hybrid bonding, Invensas stands as a pioneering leader that continues to deliver improved performance, power, and functionality, while also reducing the cost of semiconductors. We are proud to partner with SK hynix to further develop and commercialize our DBI Ultra technology and look forward to a wide range of memory solutions that leverage the benefits of this revolutionary technology platform."

SK Hynix Inc. Reports Fiscal Year 2019 and Fourth Quarter Results

SK hynix Inc. today announced financial results for its fiscal year 2019 and fourth quarter ended on December 31, 2019. The consolidated revenue of fiscal year 2019 was KRW 26.99 trillion won while the operating profit amounted to 2.71 trillion won, and the net income 2.02 trillion won. Operating margin for the year was 10% and net margin was 7%.

In order to respond to changing market conditions, SK hynix proactively adjusted both investment and output level last year to maximize business management efficiency. However, amid increasing global economic uncertainty, the increase of inventory burden and conservative purchasing policies on the side of the customers led to a slowdown in demand as well as price falls. As a result, the Company's earnings decreased year-over-year (YoY).

A Walk Through SK Hynix at CES 2020: 4D NAND SSDs and DDR5 RDIMMs

Korean DRAM and NAND flash giant SK Hynix brought its latest memory innovations to the 2020 International CES. The star attraction at their booth was the "4D NAND" technology, and some of the first client-segment SSDs based on it. As a concept, 4D NAND surfaced way back in August 2018, and no, it doesn't involve the 4th dimension. Traditional 3D NAND chips use charge-trap flash (CTF) stacks spatially located next to a peripheral block that's responsible for wiring out all of those CTF stacks. In 4D NAND, the peripheral block is stacked along with the CTF stack itself, conserving real-estate on the 2-D plane (which can then be spent on increasing density). We caught two 128-layer 4D NAND-based client-segment drives inbound for 2020, the Platinum P31 M.2 NVMe, and Gold P31 M.2 NVMe. The already launched Gold S31 SATA drive was also there.

NAND Flash Prices to Rise up to 40% in 2020

According to the sources over at DigiTimes, NAND flash prices are set to rise by up to 40% in 2020. This report is coming from sources over at memory chipmakers, presumably some of the biggest players like SK Hynix, Micron, and Samsung. If the prediction realizes, consumers will see a significant price jump for products based on NAND flash memory like most of today's solid-state drives. For reference, earlier today we also reported that a minute long power outage at Samsung created damage worth millions of Dollars in DRAM and NAND flash memory.

This incident alone could help contribute to the price rise of NAND memory in 2020. Other possible reasons may include an inefficient supply of materials used by NAND flash production lines or a simple supply-demand ratio, which would hurt prices of NAND flash long-therm. However, we hope that the underlying problems for this predicted price rise can be worked out and that companies like Samsung, which got power outage accident, can supplement the capacity loss during the unplanned turn of events.

SK hynix to Introduce Consumer PCIe NVMe SSDs at CES 2020

SK hynix Inc., a global semiconductor maker based in Korea, is set to introduce its newest offering of "Gold P31" and "Platinum P31" PCIe NVMe Solid State Drives (SSDs) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020, which will be held on January 7-10 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The drives are built with SK hynix's 128-layer 4D NAND flash, only six months after the Company announced the mass production of the world's first and highest vertical stack for NAND flash, demonstrating the chipmaker's technological edge.

As a leading manufacturer of memory chips, SK hynix builds and supplies its own DRAM and NAND flash devices, as well as SSD controllers designed and developed in-house. The company has a proven track record as a major supplier to global OEMs including top-tier PC makers, who have trusted and purchased SK hynix's SSDs for nearly a decade now. As a next step, SK hynix is now expanding into the consumer market with its newest drives.

Intel Takes the Crown of World's Largest Semiconductor Supplier in 2019

Intel is set to become the world's largest semiconductor supplier of 2019, according to the research from IC Insights. Intel held a crown for the largest semiconductor supplier since 1992, until 2018 when Samsung overtook it because of the booming DRAM business driven by high demand and not enough supply. Being Samsung's main business, any DRAM price/demand fluctuation was having a massive impact on its business. Due to high demand and high pricing, Samsung saw a massive revenue jump which resulted in a new king of the world's largest semiconductor supplier.

However, having seen predictions for a fall of 34% for this year, the decrease in demand will result in lower revenue for all DRAM market suppliers. SK Hynix, Micron and Samsung are expecting their revenues to decline around 29% on a year-over-year basis given the situation. This is resulting in lower revenue for Samsung than Intel has, and makes Intel the king of semiconductors once more. Intel's revenue is expected to reach around 70 billion USD, which is similar to last year's numbers.

Intel "Tiger Lake-U" Processors Could Support LPDDR5 Memory

Intel's Core "Tiger Lake" microarchitecture could be a point of transition between DDR4 and DDR5 for the company. Prototypes of devices based on the ultra-compact "Tiger Lake-Y" SoC were earlier shown featuring LPDDR4X memory, although a new device, possibly a prototyping platform, in the regulatory queue with the Eurasian Economic Commission describes itself as featuring a "Tiger Lake-U" chip meant for thin and light notebooks and convertibles. This device features newer LPDDR5 memory, according to its regulatory filing.

LPDDR5 succeeds LPDDR4X as the industry's next low-power memory standard, offering data-rates of up to 6,400 MT/s (versus up to 4,266 MT/s of LPDDR4X), and consumes up to 30 percent less power. This prototype at the EEC is sure to be using unreleased LPDDR5 memory chips as DRAM majors Samsung and SK Hynix plan to ship their DDR5-based memory solutions only by the end of this year, although mass-production of the chips have already started at Samsung, in PoP form-factors. A successor to the 10th generation Core "Ice Lake," "Tiger Lake" will be Intel's second CPU microarchitecture designed for its 10 nm silicon fabrication node.

SK hynix Inc. Reports Third Quarter 2019 Results

SK hynix Inc. today announced financial results for its third quarter 2019 ended on September 30, 2019. The consolidated third quarter revenue was 6.84 trillion won while the operating profit amounted to 473 billion won and the net income 495 billion won. Operating margin and net margin for the quarter was 7%.

The revenue in the third quarter increased by 6% quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) as demand began to pick up. However, the operating profit fell by 26% QoQ as DRAM unit cost reduction was not enough to offset the price drop. DRAM bit shipments increased by 23% QoQ as the Company actively responded to the new products in the mobile market and purchases from some data center customers also increased. DRAM prices remained weak during the quarter, leading to a 16% drop in the average selling price, with the decline smaller than the previous quarter.

SK hynix Develops 1Znm 16Gb DDR4 DRAM

SK hynix Inc. announced today that it has developed 1Znm 16Gb (Gigabits) DDR4 (Double Data Rate 4) DRAM. As 16Gb is the industry's largest density for a single chip, the total memory capacity per wafer is also the largest of the existing DRAMs. The productivity of this product has improved by about 27% compared to the previous generation, 1Y nm. It does not require highly expensive extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, which gives it a competitive edge cost-wise.

The new 1Z nm DRAM also supports a data transfer rate of up to 3,200 Mbps, which is the fastest data processing speed in DDR4 interface. The Company significantly increased its power efficiency, successfully reducing power consumption by about 40% compared to modules of the same density made with 1Y nm 8 Gb DRAM.

China Starts Production of Domestic DRAM Chips

China's semiconductor industry is seeking independence in every sector of its industry, with an emphasis of homemade products for domestic use, especially government facilities, where usage of homegrown products is most desirable. According to the report of China Securities Journal, Chinese firm has started production of DRAM memory.

A company named ChangXin Memory Technology, founded in 2016 to boost domestic silicon production, on Monday started production of DRAM memory, aiming to directly replace the current supply of foreign memory from companies like Micron, SK Hynix and Samsung. Being build using 18 nm technology which ChangXin calls "10-nanometer class" node, this DRAM chip isn't too far behind offers from competitors it tries to replace. Micron, Samsung and SK Hynix use 12, 14, and 16 nm nodes for production of their DRAM chips, so Chinese efforts so far are very good. The company promises to produce around 120.000 wafers per month and plans to deliver first chips by the end of this year.

SK Hynix Announces the Gold S31 Consumer SATA SSD

SK hynix Inc. announced today the launch of its "Gold S31" solid-state drive (SSD). Gold S31 (SATA III - first generation) is the first of the Company's new SuperCore series of consumer SSDs, an internal drive lineup based on SK hynix's core technology. With its speed and reliability, SK hynix's Gold S31 will be a perfect choice for all PC users, particularly for gamers, designers, and content creators. Gold S31 pushes the limits on high-performance SSDs, providing users the next level of speed with sequential read speeds up to 560 MB/s, as well as superior quality, reliability, and five-year warranty.

The 2.5-inch drive supports the SATA III interface based on 3D NAND Flash technology, and is now available in 1 TB, 500 GB and 250 GB capacities on Amazon US. All key components in Gold S31, from NAND Flash and built-in controller to DRAM and firmware, were designed and produced by SK hynix. The in-house components are built for robust performance and reliability.

SK Hynix Announces its HBM2E Memory Products, 460 GB/s and 16GB per Stack

SK Hynix Inc. announced today that it has developed HBM2E DRAM product with the industry's highest bandwidth. The new HBM2E boasts approximately 50% higher bandwidth and 100% additional capacity compared to the previous HBM2. SK Hynix's HBM2E supports over 460 GB (Gigabyte) per second bandwidth based on the 3.6 Gbps (gigabits-per-second) speed performance per pin with 1,024 data I/Os (Inputs/Outputs). Through utilization of the TSV (Through Silicon Via) technology, a maximum of eight 16-gigabit chips are vertically stacked, forming a single, dense package of 16 GB data capacity.

SK Hynix's HBM2E is an optimal memory solution for the fourth Industrial Era, supporting high-end GPU, supercomputers, machine learning, and artificial intelligence systems that require the maximum level of memory performance. Unlike commodity DRAM products which take on module package forms and mounted on system boards, HBM chip is interconnected closely to processors such as GPUs and logic chips, distanced only a few µm units apart, which allows even faster data transfer.

SK Hynix Named as Memory & Storage Solutions Partner to Support Latest AMD EPYC 7002 Series

SK Hynix Inc. announced today that its DRAM and Enterprise SSD (eSSD) solutions, including the up-to-date 1Y nm 8 Gb DDR4 DRAM, have been fully tested and validated with the new AMD EPYC 7002 Generation Processors, which were unveiled during AMD's launch event on August 7. The Company has worked closely with AMD to provide memory solutions fully compatible with the 2nd Gen AMD EPYC Processors, targeting high performance data centers.

The SK Hynix DDR4 DRAM supports the maximum speed of 3200 Mbps of the 2nd Gen EPYC Processors[i], which will increase memory performance more than 20% compared to the 1st Gen AMD EPYC Processors. The Company's various DDR4 DRAM solutions, based on the 1Xnm and 1Y nm technology with density of 8 Gb and 16 Gb, have been fully tested and validated with the 2nd Gen EPYC Processors. SK Hynix provides high-density DIMMs with density over 64 GB to support up to 64 cores per socket in the 2nd Gen EPYC.

SK Hynix also provides a full line-up of SATA and PCIe from 480 GB to 8 TB, which have also been validated and tested with the 2nd Gen EPYC. SK Hynix's eSSD solutions are optimized for the latest data center's read-intensive and mixed workload environment.

SK Hynix Starts Mass-Producing World's First 128-Layer 4D NAND

SK Hynix Inc. announced today that it has developed and starts mass-producing the world's first 128-Layer 1 Tb (Terabit) TLC (Triple-Level Cell) 4D NAND Flash, only eight months after the Company announced the 96-Layer 4D NAND Flash last year.

The 128-Layer 1 Tb NAND chip offers the industry's highest vertical stacking with more than 360 billion NAND cells, each of which stores 3 bits, per one chip. To achieve this, SK Hynix applied innovative technologies, such as "ultra-homogeneous vertical etching technology," "high-reliability multi-layer thin-film cell formation technology," and ultra-fast low-power circuit design, to its own 4D NAND technology.

SK Hynix Reports Second Quarter 2019 Results

SK hynix Inc. today announced financial results for its second quarter 2019 ended on June 30, 2019. The consolidated second quarter revenue was 6.45 trillion won while the operating profit amounted to 638 billion won and the net income 537 billion won. Operating margin for the quarter was 10% and net margin was 8%.

As demand recovery did not meet expectations and price declines were steeper than expected, the revenue and the operating profit in the second quarter fell by 5% and 53%, respectively, quarter-over-quarter (QoQ). DRAM bit shipments increased by 13% QoQ as the Company actively responded to the mobile and PC DRAM markets, where demand growth was relatively high. However, DRAM prices remained weak and the average selling price dropped by 24%. For NAND Flash, the bit shipments increased by 40% QoQ because of demand recovery due to price declines, while the average selling price decreased by 25%.

Japan-Korea Trade Spat and Toshiba Blackout Hike DRAM Prices by 20 Percent

Prices of DRAM shot up by 20 percent as Japan put in place export curbs that restrict high-technology exports to South Korea, and as Toshiba recovers from a power blackout that temporarily halted production. This could impact prices of end-user products such as PC memory modules, or consumer electronics, such as smartphones, in the coming weeks, as inventories either dry up, or are marked-up at various stages of the supply-chain. The memory industry is inter-dependent between fabrication and packaging units spread across South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

Memory and flash industry observer DRAMeXchange reported that spot-pricing of 8-gigabit DDR4 DRAM chips, which is used as a benchmark for DRAM pricing as a whole, closed at USD $3.74 at the end of trading on Friday (19/07). It's up 14.6 percent week-over-week, and 23 percent up pricing as on 5th July. An industry observer who spoke with KBS World notes that the recent hikes are not directly infuenced by the trade-spat between Japan and Korea, but rather a power blackout experienced at a Toshiba DRAM manufacturing facility last month. The observer noted that if the trade-spat affects production at Samsung Electronics or SK Hynix, DRAM prices could "skyrocket."

SK Hynix Starts Mass-Producing World's First 128-Layer 4D NAND, Working on 176-Layer NAND

SK hynix Inc. announced today that it has developed and started mass-producing the world's first 128-Layer 1 Tb (Terabit) TLC (Triple-Level Cell) 4D NAND Flash, only eight months after the Company announced the 96-Layer 4D NAND Flash last year.

The 128-Layer 1 Tb NAND chip offers the industry's highest vertical stacking with more than 360 billion NAND cells, each of which stores 3 bits, per one chip. To achieve this, SK hynix applied innovative technologies, such as "ultra-homogeneous vertical etching technology," "high-reliability multi-layer thin-film cell formation technology," and ultra-fast low-power circuit design, to its own 4D NAND technology.

The new product provides the industry's highest density of 1 Tb for TLC NAND Flash. A number of companies including SK hynix have developed 1 Tb QLC (Quad-Level Cell) NAND products, but SK hynix is the first to commercialize the 1 Tb TLC NAND Flash. TLC accounts for more than 85% of the NAND Flash market with excellent performance and reliability.

SK hynix Launches World-Class Low-Power NVMe Enterprise SSD

SK hynix Inc. announced today that it launched a new low-power Non-Volatile Memory express (NVMe) Enterprise SSD (eSSD) with the 72-layer TLC 3D NAND flash that offers best-in-class performance for power as well as Quality of Service. The product features an in-house NVMe controller on top of the 72-layer 3D NAND technology currently in mass production. With the launch, SK hynix has established itself as a memory producer that designs, develops, and mass-produces all key components, from NAND and DRAM to controllers, in-house, for not only Client but also Enterprise applications.

Meanwhile, power consumption of datacenters is an increasingly important concern in terms of energy and environmental preservation, as their footprint grows amid rising enterprise demand for cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML). As datacenters are expected to account for one-fifth of the world's energy consumption in 2025, low-power components that enable datacenter energy efficiency are expected to only grow in importance.

NAND Manufacturers Accelerate Deployment of 120/128 Layer 3D NAND Fabrication

A report from DigiTimes pits NAND manufacturers as accelerating their 120/128 layer 3D NAND technologies, aiming for volume production as early as 2020. Even as SK Hynix has begun sampling its 96-layer 4D NAND flash in March, Toshiba and Western Digital already had plans to introduce 128-layer technology, built on a TLC (Triple Level Cell) process technology so as to increase density while avoiding yield issues present with current QLC (Quad Level Cell) implementations.

The decision to accelerate deployment of the next generation of NAND comes from the fact that the market still faces an oversupply of NAND flash, mostly driven by the mature process of 64-layer NAND technology. With new technologies, higher ASPs and lower production scales are sustainable, which should enable supply to reduce enough so as to increase pricing of NAND-based technologies - and allow manufacturers to somewhat reset asking prices for new NAND chips.

SK Hynix Begins Sampling 96-layer 4D QLC NAND Flash Memory

SK Hynix Inc., announced today that it has delivered samples of new 1Tb (Terabit) QLC (Quadruple Level Cell) product to major SSD (Solid State Drive) Controller companies. The Company applied its own QLC technology to its world's first 96-Layer "CTF (Charge Trap Flash) based 4D (Four-Dimensional) NAND Flash (or 4D NAND)." SK Hynix intends to expand its NAND portfolio to 96-layer-based 1Tb QLC products in time for the QLC market opening and strengthen its responsiveness to the next-generation high-density memory market.

QLC stores four bits of data in one NAND cell, allowing higher density compared to TLC (Triple Level Cell) that stores three bits per cell. Using QLC, it is possible to develop high-density products with cost competitiveness. SK Hynix is able to secure the industry's top-level cost competitiveness through this product, which has reduced the area to less than 90% of the existing 3D-based QLC products.

SK Hynix Completes Expanded Fab (C2F) in Wuxi, China

SK Hynix Inc. today announced that it held a ceremony celebrating the completion of an expanded fabrication plant (or 'C2F') in Wuxi, China, on April 18th. C2F is an expansion of the existing DRAM production line, C2, in Wuxi. The Company decided to expand its production line in 2016 in order to solve the shortage of production space due to technology migration. About 500 people attended the ceremony, including Li Xiaomin, Party Secretary of Wuxi, Guo Yuanqiang, Vice Governor of Jiangsu, Choi Youngsam, Consul-General in Shanghai, Lee Seok-hee, Chief Executive Officer of SK Hynix, and representatives of clients and business partners.

SK Hynix signed a contract with Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, China, in 2004 to establish a local factory and completed the production line (C2) in 2006 to start producing DRAM. C2 is the Company's first 300mm FAB and has played a major role in SK Hynix's growth to date. However, with technology scaling, the number of processes has increased and the equipment has become larger, which led to the shortage of the cleanroom space. SK Hynix, therefore, has invested a total of 950 billion KRW from June 2017 to April 2019 to secure additional production space.

SK Hynix Inc. Reports First Quarter 2019 Results

SK Hynix Inc. today announced financial results for its first quarter 2019 ended on March 31, 2019. The consolidated first quarter revenue was 6.77 trillion won while the operating profit amounted to 1.37 trillion won and the net income 1.1 trillion won. Operating margin for the quarter was 20% and net margin was 16%.

Because of a faster-than-expected price decline and lower shipments due to slowing memory demand, the revenue and the operating profit in the first quarter fell by 32% and 69%, respectively, quarter-over-quarter (QoQ). Due to seasonal slowdown and conservative server purchases, DRAM bit shipments decreased by 8% QoQ. The average selling price dropped by 27%. For NAND Flash, the average selling price decreased by 32% due to high inventory levels and intensifying competition among suppliers. The bit shipments declined by 6% QoQ.

TrendForce: Recent DRAM Pricing Decline Biggest Since 2011, Nearly 30% Decrease

The latest analysis of the PC DRAM market from DRAMeXchange, a division of TrendForce, finds that most contracts are now monthly deals rather than quarterly deals, with February even seeing a most unusual, large down-correction in prices. The current quarterly decline dropped from the originally projected 25% to nearly 30%, resulting in the sharpest decline in a single season since 2011.

DRAMeXchange points out that, according to the most recent market observations, inventory levels have kept climbing ever since overall contract prices dropped in the fourth quarter of last year, and most DRAM suppliers are currently holding around a whopping six weeks' worth of inventory (wafer banks included). Meanwhile, Intel's low-end CPU supply shortage is expected to last until the end of 3Q19, and PC-OEMs are unable to carry out the consumption of DRAM chips under demand suppression. The overall market has thus entered freefall, meaning that large reductions in prices aren't going to be effective in driving sales. The excessively high inventory will continue to cause down-corrections in prices this year if demand doesn't make a strong comeback.

DigiTimes: Micron, Samsung, SK Hynix to See DRAM, Flash Revenue Fall in 1Q19

DigiTimes is reporting that three of the major DRAM and Flash players in the industry - Micron, Samsung and SK Hynix - are expected to drop an astonishing 26% sequentially on 1Q19 and 29% YoY for 1Q19. The combined revenue drop for the three DRAM and Flash semiconductor giants comes in the face of seasonality and decreasing prices, and the decline continues an already negative 4Q18, which saw a decrease of 18% sequentially and 26% from a year earlier.

With memory pricing facing a continuous decline in recent times, clients are taking a pondered approach towards ordering from manufacturers - an expectation of future savings being the main factor for this. Demand, however, is expected to pick up in 2H19, due to increased demand from end customers, following price-cuts from manufacturers and improved specifications on end-products.

GlobalFoundries Looking for Buyers, Samsung and SK Hynix Seem Interested

GlobalFoundries is looking to be sold lock-stock-and-barrel by its investors, after heavily downsizing and parting with some of its Singapore-based assets recently. Once promising to lead the market with 7 nm and 5 nm advancements, the company crashed out of the sub-10 nm race, making AMD, its biggest customer, look for 7 nm supplies from TSMC. GlobalFoundries is the world's third largest semiconductor foundry service provider, with an 8.4 percent market share, behind TSMC and Samsung. Intel doesn't offer manufacturing services, as its fabs are fully dedicated to manufacturing its own products.

GlobalFoundries's main investor is Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Technology, which holds a 90 percent stake in the company. Korean semiconductor companies Samsung and SK Hynix are reportedly in the foray to buy out GlobalFoundries, as it would give them a turnkey presence in the US, with its Upstate New York facilities. The company is unlikely to entertain bids from Chinese companies, as CFIUS would likely block the sale. "Global Foundries is unlikely to be bought by a Chinese company such as SMIC in that the U.S. government is keeping China in check in various industries," said an industry insider, adding, "The most potential candidates include South Korean companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, and Samsung Electronics can increase its share in the market to 23 percent at once if it takes over Global Foundries."
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