Hynix and Nvidia
According to industry sources on Sept. 20, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are planning to mass produce second-gen High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) for Nvidia's Pascal GPU starting in the first quarter of next year, after completing pilot production and reliability tests by the end of 2015.
Earlier this year, SK Hynix was already supplying first-gen HBM to AMD and Nvidia ahead of Samsung. Micron uses Hybrid Memory Cubes (HMC), a technology similar to HBM, but falling behind it in productivity.
HBM, which the two Korean semiconductor companies are working to develop, is a high-performance RAM interface that stacks up DRAM modules in four layers. Using Through Silicon Via (TSV) technology, the stacked memory chips can process data 4 to 8 times faster than conventional DDR memory, and consume 40 percent less power. TSV technology is a cutting-edge technique that enables a vertical electrical connection of chips by making tiny holes in chips, rather than connecting chips using wires. After DRAM chips are sliced thinner than half of the thickness of a piece of paper, they are pierced to contain hundreds of fine holes, and vertically connected through electrodes that pass through the holes of the chips.
The second-gen HBM chips process data twice as fast as the first-gen HBM modules, which were unveiled by SK Hynix in late 2013. The storage capacity of the 8 Gb HBM chips is said to have increased fourfold.
The advantage of the new HBM tech is that it is possible to stack up DRAM models in four or eight layers. The two chip makers are scheduled to supply HBM chips to servers, supercomputers, networks, and high-performance PCs, in addition to the Pascal GPU, starting 2016. After that, they are expected to be used in digital consumer products, including video game consoles.
Meanwhile, the two dominant players in the global DRAM memory market are keeping a close eye on a change in the dynamics of technology in the memory industry, centered on HBM.
An industry source said, "There are clear signs of a change in the structural design of CPUs, GPUs, DRAM memory, and storage led by Intel and Nvidia, which control standards in the market." The source added, "Samsung and SK Hynix are both expanding their technical bases for various types of next-gen memory, including HBM chips."