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SK Hynix Completes Expansion of DRAM Plant in China
Speeding up Shift to Microfabrication
SK Hynix Completes Expansion of DRAM Plant in China
  • By Kim Eun-jin
  • April 19, 2019, 09:48
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SK Hynix CEO Lee Seok-hee gives a welcoming remark during a completion ceremony for the firm's C2F plant in Wuxi, China, on April 18.

SK Hynix Inc., the world’s second-largest memory chipmaker, has completed the expansion of its dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) manufacturing plant in Wuxi, China.

SK Hynix held a completion ceremony for C2F, an expansion of its existing C2 DRAM fabrication line in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province of China, on April 18 (local time).

The company signed an agreement with the city of Wuxi in 2004 to build a plant in the region and completed the production line in 2006. The C2 fab was the company’s first fabrication line dedicated to producing 300 millimeter wafers and it has been playing a crucial role in SK Hynix’s growth until now.

However, problems arose as the company introduced microfabrication processes. The plant had not enough space to accommodate bigger equipment and increased process steps. Accordingly, the company decided to expand the plant, which cost a total of 950 billion won (US$834.80 million).

The new plant is a single story building that is 316 meters long, 180 meters wide and 51 meters high. It is similar in size to its existing C2 fab. It partially completed the construction of a clean room, brought in equipment and started manufacturing DRAM chips.

The company plans to flexibly decide on the period of carrying out an additional construction of a clean room and bringing in additional equipment depending on market conditions. An industry analyst said, “With the latest expansion, the DRAM production capacity of the Wuxi plant will increase from 120,000 wafers per month to 180,000 wafers. Accordingly, the Chinese production lines will account for 40 to 50 percent of the company’s total DRAM business.”

Currently, SK Hynix operates its DRAM and NAND flash production lines, M10 and M14, in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, and three other NAND flash production lines, M11, M12 and M15, in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province. The company is also planning to complete the construction of M16 in Icheon next year.

Industry watchers say that the latest expansion has allowed the company to introduce micro-fabrication processes at a faster pace. The Wuxi plant had difficulties in installing new equipment for conversion to microfabrication processes because it had to meet the growing demand in China.

However, the C2F plant has now obtained some room to raise the proportion of 10 nanometer-class DRAM chips. It can minimize the decline in production that occur in the process of shifting to micro-fabrication thanks to the compatibility with the existing line.

SK Hynix’s DRAM market share slightly increased from 29.1 percent in the third quarter of last year to 31.2 percent in the fourth quarter, according to a report by market research firm DRAMeXchange. Samsung Electronics Co. saw its market share decrease by 4.2 percentage points to 41.3 percent over the same period and SK Hynix covered up the decline at a certain level.