SK hynix showcased the sample of the 321-layer 4D NAND, making public the progress on its development of the industry’s first NAND with more than 300 layers. The company gave a presentation on the progress on the development of its 321-layer 1Tb TLC1 4D NAND Flash and displayed the samples at the Flash Memory Summit (FMS) 20232 taking place Aug. 8-10 in Santa Clara. 1Triple Level Cell (TLC): NAND Flash products are categorized into single, multi, triple, quadruple and penta level cells depending on the number of information (in bit unit) contained in a single cell. That a cell contains more information means more data can be stored within the same extent of area.
2Flash Memory Summit (FMS): the biggest annual conference for NAND Flash industry
SK hynix is the first in the industry to unveil the progress on the development of a NAND with more than 300 layers in detail. The company plans to raise the level of completion of the 321-layer product and start mass production from the first half of 2025. The company said its technological competitiveness accumulated from the success of the world’s highest 238-layer NAND, already in mass production, paved the way for a smooth progress for the development of the 321-layer product. “With another breakthrough to address stacking limitations, SK hynix will open the era of NAND with more than 300 layers and lead the market.” The 321-layer 1Tb TLC NAND comes with a 59% improvement in productivity, compared with the earlier generation of 238-layer 512Gb, thanks to the technology development that enabled stacking of more cells and larger storage capacity on a single chip, meaning the total capacity that can be produced on a single wafer increased.
Since the introduction of ChatGPT that accelerated the growth of the generative AI market, demand for high-performance and high-capacity memory products that can process more data at a faster pace is growing rapidly. Accordingly, at the FMS, SK hynix also introduced next-generation NAND solutions optimized for such AI demand, including the enterprise SSD adopting the PCIe Gen5 interface and UFS 4.0. The company expects these products to achieve industry-leading performance to fully meet the needs of the customers with a focus on high performance. SK hynix also announced that it has started development of the next-generation PCIe Gen6 and UFS 5.0 with the improved technology for solution development that it acquired through these products and expressed its commitment to leading the industry trend.
Jungdal Choi, Head of NAND Development, said during a keynote speech that the company expects the ongoing development of the 321-layer product, the fifth generation of the 4D NAND, to help the company solidify its technological leadership in the NAND space. “With timely introduction of the high-performance and high-capacity NAND, we will strive to meet the requirements of the AI era and continue to lead innovation.”
SK hynix also announced that it has begun supplying the industry’s first 24-gigabyte (GB) Low Power Double Data Rate 5X (LPDDR5X1) mobile DRAM package to its customers, following the mass production of LPDDR5X in November 2022.
1 LPDDR: Low Power DRAM for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, aimed at minimizing power consumption and features low voltage operation. LPDDR5X DRAM is the 7th generation product, succeeding the series of such that ends with 1, 2, 3, 4, 4X and 5. SK hynix, in January, developed LPDDR5T, which is an upgraded product of LPDDR5X prior to the development of the 8th generation LPDDR6, and is currently processing customer validation.
“The company integrated the High-K Metal Gate (HKMG2) process in the 24 GB LPDDR5X package, enabling the product to deliver outstanding power efficiency and performance,” said SK hynix. “The addition of the 24GB package to our mobile DRAM product portfolio has given us a more flexibility in accommodating customers’ needs.”
2 HKMG: A next-generation process that uses a material with a high dielectric constant (K) in the insulating film inside DRAM transistors to prevent leakage currents and to improve capacitance. It reduces power consumption while increasing speed. SK hynix had become the industry’s first to integrate the process in mobile DRAM in Nov. 2022.
The 24GB LPDDR5X package operates in the ultra-low voltage range of 1.01 to 1.12V set by the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC), and can process 68GB of data per second, which is equivalent to transferring 13 FHD (Full-HD) movies in one second. SK hynix, prior to today’s announcement, has begun supplying its new product to smartphone manufacturer OPPO since last month. OPPO’s latest flagship smartphone ‘Oneplus Ace 2 Pro’, which features SK hynix’s 24GB LPDDR5X package, was launched on August 10th. “With the timely supply of 24GB LPDDR5X from SK hynix, we were able to become the first to launch a smartphone that features the industry’s largest capacity DRAM,” said Louis Li, Vice President of Marketing at OPPO. “This new smartphone will allow the customers to enjoy optimized multi-tasking environment as well as extended battery life.”
Due to rapid performance improvement, the roles of modern smartphone have expanded beyond the communication device and into edge device3, and IT experts forecast the gadget to be essential in the AI era. In order to incorporate AI into smartphones, it is crucial to enhance the performance of semiconductor memory, which is the core component, and accordingly, the memory industry is projected to grow further.
3 Edge Device: A device that operates at the edge of a network – an edge-to-cloud continuum – that collects and transmits data to connect the local network to an external wide area network (i.e. cloud, data center), such as personal smart devices, vehicles and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
“Along with a faster advancement in broader IT industry, our LPDDR products will be able to support a growing list of applications such as PC, server, high-performance computing (HPC) and automotive vehicles,” said Myoungsoo Park, Vice President and Head of DRAM Marketing at SK hynix. “The company will cement our leadership in the premium memory market by providing the highest performance products that meet customers’ needs.”