SK Hynix to reveal 16-layer HBM3E to main the lead

Daniel Chiang, Taipei, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: SK Hynix

Leading in the high-bandwidth memory (HBM) market, SK Hynix aims to maintain its technological competitiveness by unveiling its industry-leading HBM3E technology, which stacks 16 layers of DRAM.

According to reports from South Korean media outlet ZD Net Korea, SK Hynix plans to publicly showcase its 16-layer 48GB HBM3E product during the 2024 International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC 2024), boasting a single-stack speed of up to 1280 GB/s.

Previously, SK Hynix provided customers with samples of 12-layer HBM3E in 2023, with plans for mass production in the first half of 2024. R&D is underway for 16-layer HBM4, targeting mass production by 2026. SK Hynix aims to maintain its market leadership during this period by adopting 16-layer HBM3E technology.

Compared to 12 layers, 16-layer HBM requires stacking more DRAM dies at the same height, making it crucial to reduce the thickness of DRAM and prevent wafer warpage.

To overcome these technical challenges, SK Hynix has been using MR-MUF (Mass Reflow Molded Underfill) technology since its HBM2e products, and its 12-layer HBM3, produced in 2023, introduced an upgraded Advanced MR-MUF, effectively improving heat dissipation.

SK Hynix stated that the newly unveiled 16-layer HBM3E optimizes stacking by utilizing Through-Silicon Via (TSV) designs that enhance low-power efficiency. However, future 16-layer HBM4 will adopt Hybrid Bonding technology.

Research firm Omdia indicates that thanks to the expanding demand for AI, the HBM market is expected to grow at an annual rate of at least 40% over the next five years. In 2024, SK Hynix plans to continue expanding its HBM investment. During the fourth-quarter earnings call in 2023, SK Hynix mentioned that in response to increased AI demand in 2024, advanced process product production will be expanded, and TSV capacity will be doubled compared to 2023.

Samsung Electronics, which lags behind SK Hynix in the HBM business, is accelerating its efforts. HBM3E is also set to enter mass production in the first half of 2024, with plans for HBM4 to commence trial production in 2025 and mass production in 2026.

Kyung Kye-hyun, Head of Samsung Semiconductor and Device Solutions (DS), recently stated on social media that Samsung's semiconductor products, such as HBM3E "Shine Bolt," will significantly improve the speed and efficiency of Generative AI applications. Samsung engineers are dedicated to predicting high-end AI solutions needed for the future, spanning from smartwatches and mobile devices to edge devices and cloud computing.