Samsung and SK hynix to use new 1c DRAM on next-gen HBM4 memory for future-gen AI GPUs

The development of the next-gen HBM4 memory standard is happening: Samsung, SK hynix, and TSMC preparing the latest DRAM tech and process nodes.

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Samsung and SK hynix are looking into 1c DRAM as the key to next-generation HBM4 competitiveness, with Samsung considering changing the DRAM to 1c DRAM for its HBM4, with South Korean rival SK hynix (who is working with TSMC for HBM4) also looking at 1c DRAM for its new HBM4 memory.

Samsung and SK hynix to use new 1c DRAM on next-gen HBM4 memory for future-gen AI GPUs 23

HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) is memory that features multiple DRAMs stacked vertically, connected with TSV (Through Silicon Via), so the performance of the DRAM product on the HBM memory, greatly affects the performance of HBM. Samsung was initially planning to use 1b DRAM, a 10-nano class 5th-generation DRAM, to HBM4.

1b DRAM has a linewidth of 12nm, with Samsung starting mass production of 1b DRAM in May 2023, with Samsung's HBM3E memory using 1a DRAM. ZDNet Korea reports that Samsung has established a new plan internally to change the DRAM inside of its future-gen HBM4 to 1c DRAM, with competitors like SK hynix and Micron using 1b DRAM in their respective HBM3E, HBM4 is interpreted as a steategy to take the lead of its competitors in the front-end process area.

An official familiar with the matter said: "Currently, HBM4 is heading towards 1c DRAM regardless of whether it is 12-layer or 16-layer stacked. I understand that they want to speed up development as there are many concerns that power usage problems will occur with DRAM that is one generation behind".

Samsung is expected to build its first mass production line of 1c DRAM before the end of the year, with production capacity estimated to be around 3000 units per month. The issue here is that the difference between 1c DRAM mass production and HBM4 mass production isn't that far away from each other... so it might be hard to generate the yield of 1c DRAM required at the time of HBM4 mass production.

Another official told ZDNet Korea: "Samsung Electronics executives and working groups are discussing applying 1c DRAM to HBM4 and moving up the mass production target date from the end of next year to the mid-to-late next year. However, because the yield must be supported, it has not been confirmed. "It should be viewed as a planning stage, not as an issue".

An industry official added: "If Samsung Electronics advances the DRAM applied to HBM4, even SK Hynix, the current industry leader, cannot help but feel a sense of crisis". SK hynix has a roadmap in place for HBM, but there is no room for change internally. This official added: "I understand that it is still being left behind".

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Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering and has recently taken a keen interest in artificial intelligence (AI) hardware.

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