SK Hynix Continues to Lead HBM Memory Semiconductor Market with Challenges and Innovations

SK Hynix’s Challenge in the HBM Market

Money Today Reporter Lee Jae-yoon | September 28, 2023, 10:15

The driving force behind SK Hynix’s success in leading the next generation HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) memory semiconductor market is their commitment to taking on challenges. This management philosophy, established by the late SK Group Chairman Choi Jong-hyeon and inherited by Chairman Chey Tae-win, has enabled SK Hynix to become the best HBM production company.

The HBM market is experiencing rapid growth due to the increasing demand for AI (artificial intelligence) and big data. Market research firms Gartner and Trend Force predict that the HBM market size will continue to expand significantly, with an average annual growth rate of over 36% and 45% respectively. SK Hynix currently holds more than 50% of the global HBM market share, and this is expected to increase further with the start of mass production of the 5th generation HBM.

SK Hynix’s journey in HBM development began in 2008 when AMD approached them to develop gaming memory. Recognizing the growing importance of GPU performance in the gaming market, AMD sought high-performance memory solutions from SK Hynix. Overcoming technical challenges, SK Hynix released its first HBM product in 2013. Although it initially faced obstacles such as high costs and heating issues, the company persisted and continuously improved its performance.

In August of this year, SK Hynix successfully launched the 5th generation HBM3E, with processing speeds 10 times faster and approximately six times higher capacity compared to the 1st generation. The demand for AI servers with HBM has also increased significantly, even at a higher price point.

To address heating issues, SK Hynix implemented a solution using the ‘individual packaging then repackaging’ method and adopted stack packaging technology for better heat dissipation. With these advancements, SK Hynix aims to maintain its leading position in the HBM market by leveraging its strong technological capabilities.

TL Jaeseung Lee, in charge of SK Hynix HBM Design, expressed confidence in the company’s future success, stating that the next steps will be challenging but achievable. SK Hynix remains committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation and meeting the needs of the evolving HBM market.

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Money Today Reporter Lee Jae-yoon | 2023.09.28 10:15

SK Chairman Chey Tae-won encourages officials at the Yongin Semiconductor Cluster field office located in Wonsam-myeon, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do on the 15th, with SK Hynix Vice Chairman Park Jeong-ho and President Kwak No-jeong (right) was present. / Photo = SK Hynix “Those who take on challenges are the future.” The driving force enabling SK Hynix to lead the next generation HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) memory semiconductor market is ‘challenge’. It is a management philosophy left behind by the late SK Group Chairman Choi Jong-hyeon, the father of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-win. Chairman Choi bought SK Hynix in 2012, and introduced the world’s first new HBM product the following year. SK Hynix has now become the ‘best HBM production company’.

The HBM market is growing rapidly in line with the demand for AI (artificial intelligence) and big data. According to market research firm Gartner, the HBM market size is expected to grow at an average annual rate of more than 36% from $1.1 billion (about KRW 1.4 trillion) last year to $5.177 billion (KRW 6.8 trillion) in 2027. Another market research firm , Trend Force, also predicts that the HBM market size will grow at a rapid 45% per year between now and 2025.

According to the industry, SK Hynix accounts for more than 50% of HBM Global’s market share. When mass production of the 5th generation HBM starts this year, SK Hynix’s HBM market share is expected to increase further. Roman Kirichinski, vice president of memory products at American semiconductor company AMD, said, “We are grateful for SK Hynix’s efforts in continuing to develop HBM memory.”

SK Hynix’s HBM development began in 2008 when AMD offered to develop gaming memory. As the gaming market grew, AMD focused on improving the performance of the GPU (graphics processing unit) rather than the CPU (central processing unit) and asked it to create high performance memory suitable for this. At the time, attempts were made to overcome CPU processing speed limitations with GPU, but memory performance had to be supported.

HBM by generation developed by SK Hynix / Data = SK Hynix The development of HBM was a series of challenges. The first product was released in 2013, five years after SK Hynix started HBM (Research and Development) research and development. First generation HBM had four times faster processing speed than existing DDRDDR (double data rate) memory and used 40% less power, but it was not noticed by the market. It was expensive and had major heating problems. In particular, as GDDR for graphics became mainstream, it was neglected in the gaming market.

The advanced HBM seemed to be buried, but it started to change as AI and big data gained attention. SK Hynix has not given up and has steadily improved performance since the launch of the first generation HBM. The 5th generation HBM3E, which was successfully developed in August this year, has a processing speed that is 10 times faster than the 1st generation, and the capacity has increased by about 6 times. Demand for AI servers with HBM, even at higher prices, has grown rapidly.

Seemingly intractable technical problems were also resolved. Unlike before, SK Hynix found a solution to the chronic heat problem by using the ‘individual packaging then repackaging’ method. The 5th generation HBM used the stack method, which is a package technology that improves heat dissipation characteristics, and MUF (Molded Under-Fill) material was applied to a new high heat dissipation material. Lee Jae-seung, TL of SK Hynix HBM Design said, “The area had to be reduced, the circuit remained the same, but the speed had to be increased.”

SK Hynix’s ambition is to maintain the first place in HBM based on its solid technological capabilities. TL Jaeseung Lee said, “The next step will be much more difficult than what we have achieved so far,” and added, “Of course, HBM sometimes feels burdened by the opinion that SK Hynix is first, but we are confident that we will achieve it in the end.” he said.

[저작권자 @머니투데이, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]

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