Samsung and SK Hynix to expand packaging capacity for HBM

Amy Fan, Taipei; Judy Lin, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: Samsung

High bandwidth memory (HBM) has become a hot keyword in the memory industry recently. As the demand for HBM is increasing due to the AI and HPC market expansion, HBM is likely to become a new boon for the DRAM market.

Korean media outlets ChosunBiz and Yonhap pointed out that despite the exponential growth seen in the demand for HBM, Samsung and SK Hynix have not decided the scale of investment. Top management of the two major memory companies judged that the HBM production process still require much optimization.

HBM is stacked with DRAMs to upgrade data processing speed, but due to an architectural problem, neither Samsung nor SK Hynix is able to ship the product as an end product to customers for the time being.

Currently, Samsung and SK Hynix ship the product to TSMC, and the latter integrates the HBM and logic IC on an interposer, which will be affixed onto a substrate. The HBM and logic IC are integrated into the interposer with the architecture of 2.5D or 3D, and thus the cost will increase.

Samsung and TSMC are not satisfied with the current way of collaboration, according to sources quoted by the Korean media. It is said that Samsung wishes to provide foundry service including the HBM integration. Thus Samsung is reportedly developing a technology that can replace the 2.5D interposer integration service provided by TSMC. It aims to decrease the production cost of Through-Silicon Via (TSV) packaging process.

There are other rumors saying that Samsung and SK Hynix are considering increasing packaging production lines for the purpose of increasing its HBM competitiveness. Due to the fact that HBM needs to integrate multiple chips, the TSV packaging process is attracting most attention.

SK Hynix is the only company that produces HBM3, and it is speculated to build TSV packaging production lines at its Icheon DRAM production base. However, there is not enough space at its Icheon base, so its M15 fab in Cheongju may be used for the TSV production line expansion. But there may be efficiency concerns regarding the packaging of DRAM chips from Icheon at Cheongju, and thus SK Hynix still has not made a decision on this matter.

Samsung is the latecomer in the HBM market compared to SK Hynix. Now it is expanding investments in its HBM capacity and has announced plans to launch new HBM products within 2023.

Samsung's IC packaging capacities are located at its Cheonan and Onyang industrial parks. Samsung is reportedly increasing 2.5D packaging production lines needed for HBM mass production in the Cheonan site.