SK Hynix, the world’s No. 2 memory chip maker, is investing a combined 3.15 trillion won (US$2.62 billion) in facilities to secure the competitiveness in memory semiconductors, such as DRAM and NAND flash chips.
The company announced on December 22 that it will spend 2.2 trillion won (US$1.83 billion) to build a cutting-edge semiconductor plant in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province in its bid to meet growing demand for NAND flash memory chips. SK Hynix set up the plan to invest a total of some 46 trillion won (US$38.19 billion) into building three semiconductor plants in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province and Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, including the M14.
The new factory, tentatively named “M15,” will be built on land spanning 234,000 square meters inside Cheongju Technopolis, an industrial complex in the city. The design process will begin next month, and construction of semiconductor plant buildings and clean rooms is scheduled to last from August 2017 to June 2019. The company has yet to lay out a timeline for when the plant will be equipped with related facilities and machinery but it will depend on the market situation and its technology capacity after construction is complete.
Recently, the NAND flash market is rapidly growing due to surging demand for computers using solid-state drives (SSD) with 3D NAND chips and smartphones with more storage capacity. The latest decision comes amid the ongoing industry-wide transition to microfabrication process and 3D NAND process architecture that requires more processes and more equipment for production. As the size of equipment has also become larger, the company needed to expand its facilities.
SK Hynix will also allocate 950 billion won (US$788.71 million) in its DRAM chip plant in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province in China, to construct new clean rooms. The expansion process will take place from July 2017 to April 2019. The Wuxi plant, which was built in 2006, has been rolling out half of all DRAMs that SK Hynix produced over the last decade, but the clean room’s small size to convert to fine process in the future will drag down productivity.