Posted : 2013-12-19 15:55
Updated : 2013-12-19 15:55

SK hynix, AMD to team up for new chips

By Kim Yoo-chul

An executive of SK hynix said Thursday the firm will cooperate with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) of the United States to supply highly-advanced chips for data-intensive devices.

"SK hynix will mass-produce high bandwidth memory (HBM) chips by using state-of-art through-silicon via (TSV) technology from the latter half of next year at our DRAM plant in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province," the executive told The Korea Times by telephone.

"We will partner with AMD to meet the explosive worldwide demand for HBM chips."

SK hynix is the world's second-biggest computer chipmaker, and AMD is the world's No. 2 supplier of microprocessors based on x86 architecture and also one of the largest suppliers of graphic processors.

The executive said the firm will ship HBM chip samples to its current customers within the first half of next year, without disclosing their names.

SK hynix spokesman Son Kyung-bae said it has successfully developed HBM chips based on the TSV technology. Edelman Korea, a PR agency for AMD Korea, said it was not aware of the deal between SK hynix and AMD.

SK hynix is the first within the industry to confirm its plan to provide the next-generation chips. TSV technology allows memory and logic circuitry to be place in the same package.

The chip offers enhanced memory performance with significantly less power consumption. TSV is used for mobile processors such as tablets and smartphones.

The executive said SK hynix has been consistent in boosting its investment in TSV technology.

"The HBM chips will initially be used in high-end graphic processors before being incorporated into super computers, networks and servers later," he said.

On a related note, the world's biggest chipmaker Samsung said it has already acquired the needed technology for chips based on TSV technology. However, it remained tight-lipped on the details.

"Mass production will be dependent upon customer demand and Samsung Electronics has yet to finalize the timing of mass production of memory chips using TSV technology. We will talk with our customers regarding this," said Lee Won-ho, a spokesman of Samsung Electronics.

The global memory chip industry is going through a new trend after decades of value destruction, bankruptcies and exits. The market has low growth but is highly-concentrated, rational and value-creating.

The moves by SK hynix and Samsung Electronics for high-end chips based on the TSV technology comes on the heels of changes in technological complexity, declining supply growth and barriers to new entrants, according to company officials.

"This complexity further discourages new entrants as the cost to enter is higher than ever," said Mark C. Newman, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein in Hong Kong.

관련 한글 기사

SK하이닉스, TSV 반도체 대량 양산

SK하이닉스가 차세대 패키징 기술로 각광받고 있는 실리콘관통전극 (TSV)이 적용된 High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) 메모리 반도체를 내년 하반기부터 본격 양산키로 했다. 

19일, SK하이닉스는 “업계 최초로 최첨단 TSV 기술을 적용한 HBM 솔루션을 고객들에게 공급할 예정”이라며 “내년 하반기에 양산을 시작할 것”이라고 밝혔다.

생산은 디램 생산기지가 있는 경기도 이천에서 이뤄진다. 회사의 한 관계자는 “시장 상황에 따라 생산량을 탄력적으로 조절할 것”이라고 말했다.

TSV는 반도체 웨이퍼 밑면을 얇게 갈아내 이를 여러개 쌓은 뒤 적층된 웨이퍼를 관통하는 구멍을 뚫어 전극을 형성, 칩 간 신호를 전달하는 패키지 방식이다. 같은 면적에 수직으로 칩을 집적할 수 있어 성능·용량을 개선시키면서 크기는 줄일 수 있다.

반도체 회로 폭이 10나노미터(nm) 이하에서 미세화 한계에 부딪히면서 대안으로 나온 기술로 각광 받았다. 이 기술을 이용하면 시스템반도체와 메모리 반도체를 한 칩으로 통합하는 것도 가능해진다.

이 기술이 적용된 HBM은 JEDEC에서 표준화가 진행되고 있는 고성능, 저전력, 고용량이 가능한 디램 제품으로 128GBps의 속도 를 구현하며, 고성능 그래픽 시장에서 채용을 시작으로 향후 슈퍼컴퓨터, 네트워크, 서버등 응용 분야로 채용 범위가 확대될 것으로 예상되고 있다.

SK하이닉스는 HBM제품의 기술 검증을 위하여 그래픽 솔루션 선도업체인 미국의 AMD와 공동으로 제작에 참여했다. 

한편 삼성전자는 여전히 양산 일정을 확정하지 못한 것으로 알려졌다.

삼성전자측은 “TSV기술은 이미 확보를 했으나 양산 일정은 고객사와의 협의를 거친 뒤 결정될 것”이라고 설명했다.

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