[News] Salvaging HBM Yield, Samsung Follows Competitors by Adopting SK Hynix’s Techniques

2024-03-14 Semiconductors editor

There are market rumors suggesting that Samsung Electronics plans to switch to the chip manufacturing technology used by SK Hynix in an effort to catch up with competitors in the increasingly heated competition of high-bandwidth memory (HBM).

As per Reuters’ report on March 13th, demand for HBM has surged due to the popularity of Generative AI. However, while SK Hynix and Micron Technology have successively finalized supply agreements with NVIDIA Corp., Samsung unexpectedly missed out. It is reported that Samsung’s HBM3 has yet to pass NVIDIA’s quality tests.

Reuters report further cited sources indicating that one of the reasons for Samsung’s lagging progress is its insistence on using Non-Conductive Film (NCF) technology, which has led to some production issues. In contrast, SK Hynix has taken the lead by switching to mass reflow molded underfill (MR-MUF) technology, addressing the weaknesses of NCF and becoming the first supplier of HBM3 chips to NVIDIA.

The report states that Samsung is in talks with several material suppliers, including Nagase Corporation from Japan, in hopes of purchasing MUF materials. It is revealed that Samsung intends to utilize both NCF and MUF technologies in its latest HBM chips.

Regarding the matter, both of NVIDIA and Nagase declined to comment.

As for the current landscape of the HBM market, starting in 2024, the market’s attention will shift from HBM3 to HBM3e, with expectations for a gradual ramp-up in production through the second half of the year, positioning HBM3e as the new mainstream in the HBM market.

According to TrendForce’s latest report, SK hynix led the way with its HBM3e validation in the first quarter, closely followed by Micron, which plans to start distributing its HBM3e products toward the end of the first quarter, in alignment with NVIDIA’s planned H200 deployment by the end of the second quarter.

Samsung, slightly behind in sample submissions, is expected to complete its HBM3e validation by the end of the first quarter, with shipments rolling out in the second quarter. With Samsung having already made significant strides in HBM3 and its HBM3e validation expected to be completed soon, the company is poised to significantly narrow the market share gap with SK hynix by the end of the year, reshaping the competitive dynamics in the HBM market.

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(Photo credit: SK Hynix)

Please note that this article cites information from Reuters.