[News] 1γ DRAM, 321-layer NAND! Ongoing Competition among Major DRAM Manufacturers

2023-10-09 Semiconductors editor

Despite facing economic challenges and the impact of high inflation, the flash memory market finds itself in a challenging period. Nevertheless, major DRAM manufacturers continue the pursuit of advanced technology.

For DRAM chips, advanced manufacturing processes mean improved energy efficiency, increased capacity, and an enhanced end-user experience. Currently, in the world of advanced DRAM processes, such as the 10nm class, has reached the fifth generation. Micron refers to it as 1β DRAM, while Samsung calls it 1b DRAM.

Since Micron commenced production of 1β DRAM last October, they have set their sights on producing 1γ DRAM by 2025. This will mark Micron’s first foray into extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology, and for now, EUV production is centered in their Taichung facility in Taiwan. Therefore, the 1γ process is expected to kick off production there, with potential expansion to their Japanese facilities in the future. Samsung, on the other hand, plans to enter the 1bnm process stage in 2023, achieving chip capacities ranging from 24Gb (3GB) to 32Gb (4GB) and native speeds of 6.4 to 7.2Gbps.

In the NAND Flash business, the technology has now exceeded the remarkable milestone of 200-layer stacking, with storage manufacturers relentlessly striving for even higher layer counts. On August 9th, SK Hynix showcased the world’s first 321-layer NAND Flash memory sample during the 2023 Flash Memory Summit. This innovation has increased efficiency by 59% compared to the previous 238-layer 512Gb NAND. SK Hynix plans to further refine the 321-layer NAND Flash and intends to commence production in the first half of 2025.

Furthermore, Micron has ambitious plans beyond 232 layers, with products like 2YY, 3XX, and 4XX on the horizon. Kioxia and Western Digital are also actively exploring 3D NAND technology with more than 300, 400, and 500 layers. Samsung is planning to introduce the ninth generation of 3D NAND in 2024, possibly featuring 280 layers, followed by the tenth generation in 2025-2026, potentially reaching 430 layers. Their ultimate goal is to achieve 1000-layer NAND Flash by 2030.

(Image: SK Hynix)