|DRAM modules of Samsung Electronics / Courtesy of Samsung Electronics|
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics said Wednesday it will mass produce highly-advanced and next-generation DRAM memory chips using extreme ultra violet (EUV) processing technology from next year.
In a statement, the world's largest memory chip supplier said it had successfully completed building a solid EUV manufacturing infrastructure, and ― more precisely ― had already shipped 1 million 10-nanometer (nm) double data rate 4 (DDR4) DRAM modules in foundry manufacturing. "Samsung has completed qualification testing on the modules from clients," it said.
The company plans to mass produce the "EUV DRAMs" at its plant here starting next year.
After enduring weak smartphone market sales in an already saturated local market, and a memory chip supply glut, Samsung is aiming to revive its integrated circuit segment in a "major way." The company had said earlier that it would spend $116 billion to develop an EUV manufacturing infrastructure, hoping to use this to win more orders from Google, Cisco, Facebook and Amazon. These firms are seeking enterprise chipsets for use in e-commerce platforms and cloud computing operations.
Samsung said the EUV-designated V2 line at the firm's Pyeongtaek manufacturing plant will start producing the DRAM modules in the second half of the year. It plans to us the EUV technology to supply next-generation DRAMs on all fronts from next year.
The Pyongtaek facility is ideally-positioned to produce fourth-generation 10-nm DDR5s and LPDDR5s. Earlier, Samsung said it had completed the development of EUV-based 5-nm chipsets.
In semiconductor manufacturing, the thinner a chip is (measured in nanometers ― nm) the better the performance and power consumption reduction if it's built around a chip using a smaller fabrication process.
Samsung Electronics, Taiwan's TSMC and others are rethinking the manufacturing flow for EUV in an effort to improve the overall process and reduce defect rates. EUV simplifies the process and enables chipmakers to pattern the most difficult and challenging features at 7-nm and smaller. While EUV still faces some challenges ― the process could potentially produce higher defect rates ― Samsung is continuing efforts to hone EUV for actual production.
While Amazon, Alibaba and Apple have been bringing their component resources in-house for the last decade, they don't have the equipment to directly fabricate large amounts of custom high-performance processors. With ASML supplying relevant EUV equipment, Samsung has the capability to stably produce EUV-based chipsets.
Citigroup, the U.S.-based investment bank, said once Samsung Electronics' factories achieve "economies of scale" production time will be cut by as much as 20 percent, helping it increase its foundry (contract-based custom chip-making) output by 25 percent.