SK Hynix says 2025 HBM production almost sold out

Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Kwak Noh-Jung, CEO of SK Hynix

SK Hynix held a press conference on May 2 at its headquarters in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, to reveal details of its investment plans for the M15X fab in Cheongju and the Yongin Semiconductor Cluster in South Korea, as well as advanced packaging facilities in Indiana, the US. Company CEO Kwak Noh-Jung disclosed during the conference that SK Hynix has already sold out of its HBM memory production for this year and is almost sold out for 2025.

SK Hynix CFO Kim Woo Hyun, head of DRAM development Kim Jonghwan, head of N-S committee Ahn Hyun, head of manufacturing technology Kim Yeongsik, head of package & test Choi Woojin, Head of corporate strategy & planning Ryu Byung Hoon, and head of AI infrastructure Justin (Ju-Seon) Kim are among the additional attendees at the event.

Gearing up for AI memory

According to Kwak, the company foresees a rapid proliferation of AI technology beyond data centers and into a broader spectrum of on-device applications, including smartphones, PCs, and automobiles. Demand for memory products that are ultra-fast, high-capacity, and low-power is anticipated to increase exponentially for AI applications.

SK Hynix offers industry-leading technologies for a variety of products, including HBM, TSV-based high-capacity DRAM, and high-performance eSSDs. The company is also ready to supply the industry's best customized memory solutions to clients through collaboration with partners around the world, Kwak claimed.

Kwak stated that SK Hynix's available capacity for HBM memory is already sold out for 2024 and nearly sold out for the next year. On the technology side, the company plans to provide samples of 12-high HBM3E with industry-best performance in May, enabling the start of mass production in the third quarter.

According to Kim, the company's head of AI infrastructure, AI memory sales are expected to expand significantly, with HBM and high-capacity DRAM modules accounting for around 5% in 2023 and 61% in terms of value by 2028.

SK Hynix has begun mass production of HBM3E and modules with ultra-high capacities of more than 256GB, and has commercialized the world's fastest LPDDR5T, Kim noted. The chipmaker is also a leading provider of AI memory in the NAND arena, serving as the exclusive supplier of QLC-based SSDs with capacities of more than 60TB, he continued. The development of next-generation products with better performance is underway, with plans to introduce revolutionary memory such as HBM4, HBM4E, LPDDR6, 300TB SSD, CXL Pooled Memory Solution, and Processing-In-Memory.

According to Choi, the company's head of packaging and testing, SK Hynix's proprietary MR-MUF is a key technology in HBM packaging. MR-MUF reduces chip stacking pressure by 6%, increases productivity by fourfold by reducing process time, and improves heat dissipation by 45% compared to earlier technologies.

SK Hynix recently released an advanced MR-MUF that improves heat dissipation by 10% through the use of a new protective material while keeping the existing advantages of MR-MUF, Choi said. Advanced MR-MUF is an optimum solution for high stacking, and technology development for 16-high stacking is underway. The company plans to utilize advanced MR-MUF achieving 16-high HBM4, while preemptively reviewing hybrid bonding technology.

Choi also discussed the company's plans to establish advanced packaging facilities for AI memory in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Indiana fab will begin mass production of AI products such as the next-generation HBM in the second half of 2028.

Investment plans in South Korea

According to Kim, head of manufacturing technology, SK Hynix plans to establish an M15X fab in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, given a significant increase in demand for AI memory, which necessitates capacity expansion before operations at the Yongin Cluster begin.

M15X, a two-story fab that accommodates various processes for HBM production including EUV, is expected to maximize production efficiency thanks to its proximity to M15, which has been boosting TSV capacity. 15X construction commenced last month (April 2024) with an anticipated completion date of November 2025; bulk production will commence in the third quarter of 2026, Kim said.

Additionally, SK Hynix aims to build the Yongin Semiconductor Cluster, an infrastructure and manufacturing complex that will house fabs for business partners. Four fabs will be ready in order, while suppliers of materials, components, and equipment will move in to develop the semiconductor ecosystem in collaboration with SK Hynix, Kim noted. Construction of the first fab will begin in March 2025 and be completed in May 2027.