samsungdram

Samsung’s 18nm DRAM Chips Hit Mass Production

March 28, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

In the space of chip manufacturing, Samsung’s track record leaves little to be desired. From their own in-house Exynos chips to groundbreaking experimental rigs and even a deal to manufacture Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 flagship processor, one would be remiss to call Samsung anything less than a cornerstone of the mobile processor market. In the area of DRAM manufacture, in particular, they consistently leave their competition in the dust. Samsung was the very first to break the sub-20 nanometer barrier in the DRAM development race and is now starting to mass produce their new line of 18 nanometer DRAM chips.

These new chips break down previously impassable manufacturing barriers like heat and stability issues by making use of a special honeycomb array pattern for the nooks and crannies of the chip. The design allows more effective dissipation of heat, as well as better conductivity with lower resistance. The new chip is also quite cheap to manufacture, thanks to Samsung’s specially made processes that are aimed at higher efficiency in return for a more specialized setup. The process has already put Samsung far ahead of rivals in the space, such as SK Hynix and Micron, whose profit margins on their current lines of chips are set to continue falling as Samsung and their closest rivals push current tech into obsolescence. The general prices of DRAM chips falling over time has not helped much, even cutting into Samsung’s sizeable profit margins.

To add insult to injury, Samsung is, for all intents and purposes, lightyears ahead of rivals in the DRAM space at the moment. Their closest competitor, SK Hynix, is only now starting to prepare 20 nanometer DRAM chips for mass production, while Micron is still developing them. According to industry analysts, Micron is roughly 2 years behind Samsung and in a compromising position in the space; with competitors zooming ahead of them and DRAM prices falling, Micron is unable to prevent losses in development and manufacturing. This means that, unless action is taken, Micron shuttering their DRAM business may become a serious consideration. The implications of Samsung’s innovations run a bit deeper than some troubled competitors, of course; the new chips will allow entirely new DRAM applications, as well as huge improvements in mobile computing.