Samsung has completed development of its 3rd-generation 10 nm-class manufacturing process for DRAM as well as the first 8 Gb DDR4 chip that uses the technology. The 1z-nm process technology is said to be the world’s smallest process node for memory, and will enable Samsung to increase productivity without needing to go to extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) at this time. The company plans to start volume production using the technology in the second half of 2019.

Samsung says that its 3rd Generation 10 nm-class manufacturing technology (also known as 1z-nm) for DRAM enables it to make 20% more 8 Gb DDR4 memory chips per wafer than the 2nd Gen 10-nm class (aka 1y-nm) does. An increase of the number of dies per wafer essentially means that the new 8 Gb DDR4 device is approximately 20% smaller* than the previous-gen 8 Gb DRAM, which means a tangible decrease of production costs at the same yield and at the same cycle time. This should mean cheaper DRAM pricies for consumers.

Samsung traditionally does not disclose exact smallest half-pitch size of the new memory device, so at this time we do not have any information about the new chip’s geometries. Since we are dealing with a 1z node, it is reasonable to assume that the smallest half-pitch size is well below 15 nm, but this is speculation.

The world’s largest maker of memory is especially proud that its 3rd Generation 10 nm-class manufacturing technology for DRAM continues to use ArF (argon fluoride) immersion lithography tools and does not require EUVL. Keeping in mind that ultra-thin nodes require multi-patterning in case of immersion lithography, it is logical to assume that Samsung uses this method along with various tricks to ensure good yields and performance.

Samsung will start production of 8 Gb DDR4 memory chips using its 1z-nm fabrication process in the second half of the year. The first products based on the 8 Gb 1z chips will be DDR4 DRAM modules. Once they are validated by CPU designers, they will be used for PCs in 2020.

Going forward, the same manufacturing technology will be used to produce DRAMs with “higher capacities and performance”.

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Source: Samsung

*Note: This is a very rough calculation.

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  • close - Friday, March 22, 2019 - link

    And the slower machine that you replace but paid for just goes in the dumpster? Money well spent. No, you'll stick with you old machine until it's paid off and made a profit. Otherwise it's not a business, it's charity to the company who sells you those machines. Reply
  • limitedaccess - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    Micron in todays earning call already announced they plan to idle 5% of their capacity to "help" with supply. This is in addition to previous scale backs in production increases that were supposed to come online. Reply
  • FullmetalTitan - Friday, March 22, 2019 - link

    I'm confident you don't know how much semiconductor tools and automation equipment/software costs, nor do you know how much engineers are paid in this sector. I guarantee you that automation isn't driving an increase of production costs. Go study up on how much it costs to DESIGN a device at 28/14/10/7nm for your answer. Reply
  • FullmetalTitan - Friday, March 22, 2019 - link

    Most especially because the tooling for DRAM is generally a whole lot simpler than tooling for logic (tools used for high aspect ratio etch and immersion lithography excluded). DRAM production is truly printing money because it is insanely fault tolerant by virtue of redundant features. Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Friday, March 22, 2019 - link

    "I'm confident you don't know how much semiconductor tools and automation equipment/software costs, nor do you know how much engineers are paid in this sector. I guarantee you that automation isn't driving an increase of production costs."

    are you talkin' to me?? are you talkin' to ME????? :):)

    anyway, R&D is mixed into the fixed cost number, just as the cost of the physical capital. again, the variable/marginal cost approach to production and price is the econ's way, not the bean counter's. all the up-front costs are fixed once production starts. the bean counters want to push down average cost; in the case of semi-conductor, they ain't much production labor. there's materials and electricity.

    without an increasing demand for whatever eventual user products are aimed at, units of output goes down, and average cost inevitably goes up. the bean counters and C-suits are not happy.
    Reply
  • sing_electric - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    This will hopefully mean lower RAM prices are here to stay (at least for a while): If Samsung can produce 20% more RAM per wafer with similar yields, they'll have lower cost than other producers, meaning they'll be able to undercut competitors while making money. In the absence of truly cartel-like price fixing (which I wouldn't entirely discount), that means there's going to be real price competition. Reply
  • limitedaccess - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    Samsung themselves have already announced they have nop interest in fighting for market share. All producers have made announcements of production scale back including idling factories to help protect margins with the demand slump.

    Memory prices even with the slump are still well above marginal product costs. All lowering production costs do now is help add to manufacturer margins.

    As for whether or not there is a cartel the real issue is that the memory market is really only 3 manufacturers. Unless there is a massive breakthrough technology (this isn't it either) none of them have the ability to significantly take market share from each other without resulting into a race to the bottom condition (basically flooding the market). Conversely it's in all their best interests to maintain the status quo and a slight under supply to maintain the highest possible margins and therefore income.

    The barrier of entry is also insanely high so you cannot use typical capitalism thinking. Hence the only potential new entrants to the market is those bankrolled by the Chinese government who want such capacity due to other interests (national) and are willing to pump money regardless of profits.
    Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Friday, March 22, 2019 - link

    "Memory prices even with the slump are still well above marginal product costs."

    for the econ types, a fair argument but not for the bean counters. for them, the metric is <b>average cost</b>, and for such heavily capitalized production, as output falls average cost rises (the cost of the machines is spread over decreasing number of units; labor and materials being minor). the only way to win that battle is for price to increase more than proportionately. and the only way to do that is to collude with other producers.
    Reply
  • Soulkeeper - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    No promise of lower power consumption ? Reply
  • benzosaurus - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    Sounds like it's about time for another tsunami. Reply

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