Samsung leaps ahead on DRAM

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Samsung leaps ahead on DRAM

Samsung Electronics said Tuesday it has been mass-producing the industry’s smallest and most productive dynamic random access memory chip since February.

The new product is a 10-nanometer (nm) class, 8-gigabit (Gb) DDR4 (double-data-rate-4) DRAM (dynamic random access memory).

One nanometer is one billionth of a meter (3.2 feet), and the smaller the number, the more advanced the technology. Global chip producers have had trouble overcoming the technological barrier of reducing the size of a DRAM chip since 2014, when Samsung debuted it 20-nm class, 4-Gb DDR3 DRAM, then-the world’s most advanced.

The latest product by the world’s top memory chip producer has again put a gulf between it and the second and third largest players, Korea’s SK Hynix and Micron Technology of the United States.

Samsung controlled 60 percent of global DRAM market in the fourth quarter last year, according to market researcher DRAMeXchange.

The company overcame the technological challenge by applying key improvements in proprietary cell design technology, quadruple patterning technology lithography, and ultra-thin dielectric layer deposition. The technologies have removed the need to use EUV (extreme ultra violet) equipment, a must for previous generations of the DDR DRAMs.

DDR4 is a type of a DRAM that supersedes its predecessors, DDR, DDR1, DDR2 and DDR3. The new DRAM supports a data transfer rate of 3,200 megabits per second (Mbps), which is more than 30 percent faster than the 2,400Mbps rate of 20nm DDR4 DRAM. The wafer productivity has been beefed up by over 30 percent and modules from the new chips consume 10 to 20 percent less power.

“Samsung’s 10nm-class DRAM will enable the highest level of investment efficiency in IT systems, thereby becoming a new growth engine for the global memory industry,” said Jun Young-hyun, president of the memory business at Samsung Electronics. “In the near future, we will also launch next-generation, 10nm-class mobile DRAM products with high densities to help mobile manufacturers develop even more innovative products that add to the convenience of mobile device users.”

20-nm class DDR4s have quickly become the most widely produced memory for personal computers and IT networks in the world and Samsung says the latest development is set to accelerate the industry-wide shift to advanced DDR4 products.

There are two main types of memory chips. NAND flash memory chips do not require power to retain data, which is why they are used in USB flash drives, solid-state drives and smartphones. DRAM chips, on the other hand, lose data when power is removed and their primary application has been in personal computers. But a new, premium breed called mobile DRAMs have been used in recent years in smartphones and tablet PCs. They can store and delete data at over 1,000 times the speed of the much cheaper NAND flash memory chips. High-end smartphones use both NAND and DRAM.


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