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EUV competition among three major DRAM manufacturers

2022-05-29

According to the Financial Associated Press, Micron President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said on May 26 that after the opening of the new plant in Taiwan, China, Micron will introduce advanced 1a nm DRAM process production and the most advanced extreme ultraviolet Light (EUV) devices.


According to public information, the EUV process uses extreme ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 10-14nm as the light source for lithography. Compared with spraying the etching solution on the surface of the semiconductor, using DUV that chemically reacts with the etching solution and the semiconductor substrate, the etching anisotropy is obvious. For integrated circuits with high precision requirements, EUV greatly improves the circuit resolution and yield.


Simply put, using EUV equipment to produce DRAM will greatly improve productivity, yield, and reduce costs. This also makes the competition for EUV even more intense.


Based on the benefits of EUV technology for DRAM technology nodes, three DRAM manufacturers, Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron, have successively entered the EUV DRAM market.


Samsung


Samsung was the first to introduce EUV. In March 2020, Samsung took the lead in using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology, and began mass production of EUV-based 14nm DRAM in October of the same year. In the process, Samsung increased the number of EUV layers on its state-of-the-art 14nm DDR5 from two to five-layer DRAM processes.


In November 2021, Samsung said that it has applied EUV technology to develop 14nm 16Gb low-power double data rate 5X (LPDDR5X) DRAM specifically for 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and other big data Terminal applications and other high-speed applications. In addition, the company released its first DRAM memory modules supporting the new Compute ExpressLink (CXL) interconnect standard, and released 2GB GDDR6 and 2GB DDR4 designed for autonomous electric vehicles and high-performance infotainment systems Automotive DRAM.


In February of this year, Samsung officially stated that its 1z-nm process DRAM based on extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology has completed mass production. Industry sources show that Samsung will continue to add EUV steps for the next-generation DRAM, and its Samsung P3 factory will also use the EUV process to produce 10nm DRAM.


SK hynix


SK hynix will introduce EUV in 2021. In February 2021, SK hynix completed the first EUV fab M16 for DRAM and officially introduced EUV lithography equipment. In July 2021, SK Hynix announced the mass production of 8 Gigabit LPDDR4 EUV DRAM with 1a nm process.


Official information shows that compared with the third-generation 1z nm memory chips, the 1a technology can produce 25% more chips under the same wafer area. In addition, in 2022, SK Hynix also released DDR5 DRAM, which is said to be the highest performance in the industry. As Hynix's third-generation high-bandwidth memory, the chip is called HBM3.


Micron


Compared with the early overweight EUV of the first two, Micron is a little later. According to previous news from foreign media, Micron plans to incorporate EUV into the DRAM development roadmap starting in 2024. Micron launched its 1a nm memory node DRAM in 2021. The process still did not use EUV lithography at the time of launch. Micron said its storage density was 40% higher than that of previous 1z nm node DRAM.


On May 26 this year, Micron stated that it will import the most advanced extreme ultraviolet (EUV) equipment or use it to produce 1a nm DRAM process after the new plant in Taiwan, China is opened. Whether this is a process upgrade that has brought new pressure on Micron, we don't know. But it is certain that the EUV competition of the three major DRAM manufacturers has been further upgraded.


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