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SK Hynix Details Plans for 512Gb 3D TLC ICs by 4Q17

Posted on February 1, 2017

SK Hynix has been busy as of late. We most recently covered their plans for expansion, which offered a cursory foretaste into what 2017 might hold for the semiconductor supplier. SK Hynix has also recently further delineated plans for 2017, trailing behind their still-fresh announcement of the industry’s first 8GB LPDDR4X-4266 DRAM packages aimed at next-generation mobile devices.

In revealing plans, SK Hynix intends to volumize production of new types of memory—not altogether unexpected. Their primary focus on NAND production and expansion over DRAM is most noteworthy, at least for impermanent future. As such, SK Hynix intends to start volume production of 72-layer 3D TLC NAND (3D-V4). For reference, SK Hynix’s 36-layer and 48-layer NAND were 3D-V2 and 3D-V3, respectively. Notable about SK Hynix’s fourth version of 3D NAND is that it will use block sizes of 13.5 MB over the 9 MB sizes of the second and third generation predecessors. Furthermore, SK Hynix intends to roll-out 256 Gb 3D TLC ICs by Q2 2017, with 512 Gb 3D TLC ICs coming in Q4 2017. SK Hynix’s new 72-layer 3D NAND should allow for higher capacity SSDs in smaller form factors and increase performance on a per IC basis.

Regarding DRAM, SK Hynix is currently using its 21nm process for a broad range of memory; however, the company confirmed intentions to start production of DRAM using its 10nm-class process--which industry experts believe to be 18nm chips—sometime this year. Aside from the planned expansion of the C2 fab in Wuxi, China, SK Hynix appears to have no additional expenditures planned for DRAM production. By ramping up existing 21nm production coupled with the onset of volumizing the 10nm process later in the year, this will keep output both competitive and potentially boost it on a per-wafer basis—as chips and cells get smaller, it’s feasible to produce more on a single wafer.

As we’ve iterated multiple times now, the global demand for NAND continues to increase with the demand for NAND-based devices and their continual memory content per box increases. More interesting though is the expected shortage on DRAM, presumably resultant of PCs, server DRAM demand, Intel’s upcoming Xeon platform, and many smartphones receiving memory upgrades to 4GB and 8GB.

As always, we’ll keep the GamersNexus audience apprised of any developments regarding memory shortages and prices.

- Eric Hamilton