Samsung supplying world’s first 18nm DRAM chips

Samsung Electronics has begun supplying advanced memory chips using very fine 18-nanometer class tech, which the market leader claims is the world’s first.

“Since February this year, Samsung has been selling DRAM chips with 8 Gb storage capacity with a double data date 4 (DDR4) feature using 18-nanometer processing technology,” Samsung Electronics said in a statement.

The statement highlighted that the development is the industry’s first, as its chief rivals in the global memory chip industry ― SK hynix and Micron Technology of the U.S. ― still sharpen DRAM chips with 20-nanometer technology.

The new Samsung memory chips are being produced at its fabrication lines in Hwaseong, south of Seoul.

“This new technology will clearly help Samsung and our top clients cut their costs even further and expand the profit margin at Samsung’s memory chip division,” said a Samsung official.

In chip-making, thinner is better in terms of efficiency and costs. Samsung said the latest DRAM chips have improved power efficiency, response speed and productivity by up to 30 percent compared to its products using 20-nanometer tech.

Samsung said its chips are installed in servers for major technology companies, though its spokesman Kim Ki-hun declined to specify the clients with which the Korean technology giant is cooperating.

But sources told The Korea Times that Hewlett-Packard of the United States signed a contract with Samsung to put the latest DRAMs in the PC maker’s corporate servers.

Samsung was in talks with several others to promote its latest developments.

DRAM is a type of memory chip with NAND flash, used to write and store data in all digital devices

Officials say Samsung will “never stop enhancing” its chip-fabrication technology in the race for thinner technology, as a new order has prevailed in the global memory chip market with three main players after exits and bankruptcies.

“The new Samsung chip technology will meet with the best interests of our clients,” Jeon Young-hyun, president at Samsung’s memory chip division, said in the statement. “We are confident the latest DRAM chips will provide the best investment solutions in corporate systems with high efficiency.”

The executive said the company plans to have a full lineup of chips for corporate servers and expand the portion of DRAMs with 10-nanometer class technology out of the total to differentiate itself from chief competitors.

Samsung had earlier been expected to start the sale of 10-nanometer DRAM chips in the latter half of this year. Its global DRAM share was a record 45.3 percent last year, said DRAMeXchange, a market research firm.

“Taking a broad perspective, we think capital spending by leading chipmakers is driven by technology migration roadmaps, increasing capital intensity, end-unit demand and content growth expectations by chip firms,” a recent RBC Capital Markets report suggested.

The announcements come after its semiconductor business is forecast to report about 2.5 trillion won operating profit during the first quarter of this year, which is far above market expectations.

“Samsung is ideally positioned to steadily provide premium DRAM chips with thinner technology to clients. In NAND flash chips, our 3D V-NAND technology is cost-competitive with advanced features,” the company said, adding such advancements are helping Samsung beat the industry’s cyclical patterns.

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