Samsung targets CXL dominance amid HBM competition

Jessica Tsai; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: Samsung

SK Hynix currently holds a dominant position in high-bandwidth memory (HBM). However, Samsung Electronics is eyeing the next competitive frontier-- the new-generation memory technology, Compute Express Link (CXL). Recently, Samsung applied for multiple trademarks associated with CXL products, drawing attention across various sectors.

According to reports from The Korea Herald, citing industry sources, Samsung's recent trademark applications include Samsung CMM-D, Samsung CMM-DC, Samsung CMM-H, and Samsung CMM-HC. These products are designed for memory, chips, data storage devices, and more. Internally, Samsung refers to CXL as CMM (CXL Memory Module).

CXL stands as the next-generation interface for expanding data transfer paths. While both CXL and HBM are high-performance memory technologies, they serve different purposes. HBM vertically connects multiple DRAMs, significantly enhancing data processing speed compared to traditional DRAMs. In the existing DRAM field, DDR-based DRAM faces limitations in expanding transmission bandwidth and capacity due to server structure constraints.

CXL DRAM, leveraging processor memory interconnect sharing technology, can boost transmission bandwidth and capacity alongside primary DRAM. Furthermore, it can improve servers' main memory capacity and performance at a lower cost. For instance, utilizing high-capacity CXL DRAM can increase each server's memory capacity by 8-10 times. HBM and CXL are anticipated to complement each other, with CXL considered a new competitive arena in the memory industry.

In recent years, Samsung has actively pursued CXL technology development. In May 2021, the company took the lead in developing CXL-based DRAM technology. In May 2023, Samsung completed CXL 2.0 development, planning mass production of CXL 2.0 DRAM starting in the fourth quarter of 2023.

SK Hynix has also delved into CXL technology, showcasing CXL 2.0 products in September 2023, trailing Samsung by about four months. SK Hynix has planned to commence mass production of CXL 2.0 products by the end of 2023.

Looking ahead, noteworthy developments include Intel's plan to launch the "Sierra Forest" server CPU with CXL 2.0 support in the first half of 2024. This move could parallel the contribution of conversational AI like ChatGPT to the popularity of the HBM market, potentially expanding the CXL market.