40 percent smaller, 15 percent more economical: Micron brings the new SDRAM generation


Micron, the world’s third largest SDRAM manufacturer, has started to produce memory chips in the 1-alpha (1α) or, simplified, 1a generation. This goes hand in hand with a 40 percent reduction in space requirements – Micron gets more memory chips from a silicon wafer.

Besides Energy consumption drops by 15 percent compared to Micron’s last generation of storage. This is especially important for mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks, as the battery life increases or the remaining components have a larger energy budget with the same battery life.

Micron does not reveal which structure widths are used in the 1a series. Samsung, the world’s largest SDRAM manufacturer, continues to assign 1a to the 10 nm class, which should also apply to the competitor.

Unlike Samsung, Micron does not use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) exposure technology, which has potentially greater advantages in terms of power consumption and space requirements, but is expensive. Silicon wafers are exposed with wavelengths of 13.5 instead of 193 nm as in conventional immersion lithography. Samsung also needs the EUV machines for the modern production processes for logic chips, such as processors, from 7 nm and has therefore already gathered years of experience.

According to Micron, the use of EUV exposure technology is not yet worthwhile in 2021.

(Image: Micron)

A Micron investor presentation indicates EUV use from 2023, where the benefits could exceed the additional costs. Previous immersion lithography is likely to reach its limits in future generations.

Micron is already delivering 1a memory in the form of LPDDR4 to smartphone manufacturers for qualification purposes, and its subsidiary Crucial will soon sell corresponding DDR4 modules for desktop PCs and notebooks. There is still no talk of DDR5 and LPDDR5 – but further products are to be added in the course of the year.


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