Samsung Electronics is expected to apply extreme ultraviolet (EUV) exposure equipment to next-generation DRAM production lines for the first time this year to streamline its chipmaking process and reinforce competitiveness.
Industry watchers say that Samsung Electronics is expected to use EUV exposure equipment for production of 10-nm (1z) DRAMs or 1a DRAMs starting this year or early next year. Announcing the development of the industry’s first 1z DRAM in March last year, Samsung Electronics said it would begin its mass-production in the second half of 2019.
"The company is currently testing EUV exposure equipment for production of 1y and 1x DRAMs, but we expect the actual application of the equipment to start from 1a DRAMs around the end of this year," said a researcher at a securities firm.
The EUV exposure equipment is expected to improve Samsung’s productivity sharply, further widening its gaps with competitors such as SK Hynix and Micron Technology. The two rivals do not plan to introduce EUV exposure equipment for DRAM production for the time being.
Micron said in a conference call in December 2019 that it would be possible to apply EUV equipment to one-gamma DRAMs production lines. This means Micron will be two steps behind Samsung Electronics in using EUV exposure equipment. SK Hynix is also testing the application of EUV equipment to DRAM production, but it will be later than Samsung Electronics. “We are developing 1a DRAMs for volume production at the beginning of 2021,” said Kim Seok, executive vice president of marketing at SK Hynix at a conference call in the third quarter of last year.
Samsung Electronics ranked first in the global DRAM market in the fourth quarter of last year with a 46.1 percent share, followed by SK Hynix with 28.6 percent and Micron with 19.9 percent, according to market research firm TrendForce.