Samsung develops industry’s first 12-stack HBM3E DRAM

2024.02.28 09:21:01 | 2024.02.28 09:21:37

[Courtesy of Samsung Electronics Co.]이미지 확대

[Courtesy of Samsung Electronics Co.]

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. has developed high bandwidth memory (HBM)3E 12H, the industry’s first 12-stack HBM3E DRAM and the highest-capacity HBM product to date, with competition among memory chip makers continuing to grow led by explosive growth of the generative artificial intelligence (AI) market.

Samsung Electronics announced Tuesday that it implemented 36 gigabytes (GB) of HBM3E 12H, the industry’s largest capacity, by stacking up to 12 layers using Through Silicon Via (TSV) technology with 24GB DRAM chips.

TSV refers to the technology of vertically stacking DRAM chips with thousands of tiny holes that connect the chips with electrodes. Samsung Electronics used TSV technology to stack 24GB DRAM with a capacity of 3GB vertically up to 12 layers, achieving the maximum capacity.

Samsung Electronics has started providing samples of HBM3E 12H to customers and plans to begin mass production in the first half of 2024.

Just before Samsung Electronics’ official announcement, U.S. Micron Technology Inc. revealed that it began mass producing HBM semiconductors for Nvidia Corp.’s next-generation AI chip on Monday local time.

The product that Micron started producing is a 24GB HBM3E product with 8 layers of stacked DRAM.

Micron explained that this product would be used in the H200 Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), which Nvidia will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2024.

The H200 is a new chip that will replace Nvidia’s current flagship product, the H100, and Micron emphasized that its HBM3E consumes 30 percent less power than that of competing products.

Sumit Sadana, executive vice president and chief business officer at Micron, noted that the release of HBM3E has allowed Micron to achieve speed, industry-leading performance, and differentiated power efficiency.

Micron’s HBM3E mass production precedes Samsung Electronics and SK hynix Inc., with SK hynix scheduled to begin HBM3E mass production in March 2024. For its part, Samsung Electronics aims to start mass producing both 8-layer and 12-layer HBM 3E products in the first half of 2024.

There is also growing tension between Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, which have dominated the DRAM market, as Micron starts aggressively entering the HBM market.

“The sales proportion of DRAM within HBM will exceed 20 percent for the first time In the first quarter of 2024,” Korea Investment & Securities Co. analyst Chae Min-suk said.

Global investor sentiment is also shifting following these recent developments in the semiconductor market.

While prominent companies such as TSMC, SK hynix, and Samsung Electronics saw declines in their stock prices, Micron and ARM Holdings Ltd. saw noticeable upward trends.

Shares of SK hynix closed at 153,800 won ($115) on Tuesday, down 4.88 percent from the previous session, while those of Samsung Electronics fell 0.14 percent to finish at 72,900 won.

The decline in SK hynix stock came as foreigners and institutional investors dumped 44.4 billion won and 77.2 billion won worth of shares respectively.

In the United States, Micron shares soared 4.02 percent on Monday local time, while those of ARM Holdings rose 9.64 percent and GlobalFoundries 2.58 percent.

Analysts are paying attention to the overall supply shortage in HBM, an essential material in the AI era.

“There will be a low increase in general DRAM wafer production given SK hynix’s increased allocation for HBM production,” Yuanta Securities Co. analyst Lee Seung-woo said. “The company’s equipment expansion plans are conservative, which will have a positive impact on performance.”

By Choi Seung-jin, Seong Seung-hoon, and Lee Eun-joo

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