SK Hynix to Invest $1 Billion in Developing HBM Memory Packaging Capacities

In a push to maintain its leadership position in the High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) chip market, South Korean semiconductor manufacturer SK hynix will invest over $1 billion in expanding its testing and packaging capacities in its home country this year. According to external expert estimates, SK hynix’s total capex for this year will reach $10.5 billion.

With one-tenth of this budget allocated for memory packaging, it’s clear that this is a priority area for the company, reports Bloomberg. Lee Kang-Wook, a former Samsung engineer, directs this aspect of the business. He specializes in combining different semiconductor materials and developing new connection methods. Lee believes that while the first 50 years of the semiconductor industry were dedicated to silicon processing components, the next 50 will focus on chip packaging technologies.

Lee played a key role in developing HBM2E memory chip packaging methods, which allowed SK hynix to emerge as a major HBM supplier for NVIDIA since late 2019. As a Samsung engineer, Lee had been leading the development of interlayer connections in multilayer semiconductors since 2002. This technology paved the way for HBM memory chips, which, in their latest generation, count 12 layers connected vertically. When SK hynix and AMD first adopted HBM in serial products in 2013, competitors took two years to catch up, with Samsung introducing HBM2 in late 2015. Lee joined SK hynix three years after that.

SK hynix is currently teaming up with Japanese companies to develop advanced vertical interconnection technology for HBM memory chips. In late February, Samsung reported the completion of HBM3E chip development with 12 layers, offering memory capacity of up to 36 GB in one stack. Micron Technology also started producing 8-layer HBM3E memory, offering up to 24GB capacity in one stack. It’s speculated that NVIDIA will acquire such chips from both SK hynix competitors. Besides developing HBM packaging enterprises in South Korea, SK hynix plans to invest several billion dollars in implementing relevant projects in the USA.

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