Hynix to make 72-layer 3-D NAND starting in second half of 2017
Chips stack layers higher and higher as demand for memory mushrooms
KENICHI YAMADA, Nikkei staff writer
SEOUL -- SK Hynix, one of South Korea's leading manufacturers of memory semiconductors, plans to leapfrog rival Samsung Electronics to mass-produce the most-advanced generation of NAND flash -- chips that feature 72 layers of data-storing cells.
The company announced on Thursday that it expects to complete designs for 72-layer 3-D NAND in the first half of 2017. It aims to begin production at its plant in Icheon in the second half of the year.
Spurred by the unquenchable thirst for memory in smartphones and data centers, the world's memory makers have moved to so-called 3-D chips and keep challenging the technical cutting edge by stacking cells in more and more layers.
The most advanced 3-D NAND chips now are made by Samsung and feature 64 layers of cells. Japanese rival and NAND pioneer Toshiba also plans to mass-produce 64-layer NAND.
SK Hynix currently makes 48-layer 3-D NAND, so it is skipping a generation to reach 72.
The chipmaker also provided some details about an added facility planned for its semiconductor plant in Cheongju. Construction will begin in August 2017 with completion set for June 2019.
SK Hynix said it intends to spend 2.2 trillion won ($1.82 billion) for the building and clean room, but the scale of investment in chipmaking equipment will be determined later based on market conditions.