Tech

Storage production: SK Hynix completes EUV-Fab

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SK Hynix has completed the M16 production facility in the South Korean province of Gyeonggi-do. After a good two years of construction, it is expanding the Icheon campus by around 57,000 m² of usable space – the equivalent of eight soccer fields, as the company notes. The building is up to 105 m high, which corresponds to a 37-story high-rise.

The M16 production facility is SK Hynix’s largest so-called fab to date. The memory manufacturer designed the building for the use of exposure machines with extreme ultraviolet wavelengths (13.5 nanometers). Current EUV lithography systems fit into existing production facilities, but future generations will take up more space due to an increase in the numerical aperture (High-NA EUV) from 0.33 to 0.55.

From the second half of 2021, SK Hynix intends to produce mostly SDRAM from the 1a generation in the M16 fab. Thanks to finer manufacturing technology, the corresponding chips are smaller when using EUV exposure and work more efficiently than previous 1z components. Both variants belong to the 10 nm class.

In addition to SK Hynix, Samsung also uses EUV exposure machines for the 1a generation. Only Micron – the world’s third largest memory manufacturer – does without EUV technology for 1a chips and continues to rely on classic (DUV) immersion lithography (193 nm wavelength, ArF laser). According to Micron, EUV exposure is not yet economically viable in its own production – that could change from 2023.

In addition to SDRAM, SK Hynix also produces NAND flash for SSDs – apparently a by-product in the M16 production facility. Other manufacturers without their own memory production buy chips from companies such as SK Hynix, Samsung and Micron in order to design (DDR4) modules and SSDs with them. (GDDR6-) SDRAM is also used on graphics cards.


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