Samsung is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most impactful chip manufacturers in the world, and this is valid for both the smartphone and the PC market. About a week ago Samsung broke the boundaries of DRAM manufacturing for smartphones by pushing its first 18 nanometer DRAM chips into mass production, leaving SK Hynix and its other competitors in the dust. Even more recently – as in yesterday – the Korean tech giant announced that it has begun mass producing the industry’s first 10 nanometer-class 8 GB DDR4 DRAM chips for the PC market, paving the road for the future of mobile DRAM.
Earlier in 2014 Samsung Electronics was the world’s first chipmaker to mass produce 20 nanometer-class 4GB DDR3 DRAM chips for the PC market, and now, two years later, the same company is ready to take a big step forward in its manufacturing technology, by becoming the first DRAM manufacturer to switch to a 10 nm-class process. To be precise, the company’s latest DDR4 DRAM chips are not going to be built using a 10 nm manufacturing process per se, but rather a 10 nm-class process. Technically this means that the new DRAM modules can be built using a node anywhere between 10 and 19 nanometers, the same way a 20 nm-class DRAM can be built using 20-to-29 nm nodes.
In any case, Samsung’s new 10 nm-class DRAM chips have been pushed into production after the company managed to overcome various manufacturing challenges related to DRAM scaling. The tech giant was able to achieve this by using ArF (argon fluoride) immersion lithography without having to rely on EUV (extreme ultraviolet) equipment. By switching to 10 nm nodes, Samsung was able to improve wafer productivity compared to a 20 nm-class process by over 30%. According to the company, “10 nm-class DRAM will enable the highest level of investment efficiency in IT systems, thereby becoming a new growth engine for the global memory industry”. Samsung also added that next-generation 10 nm-class DRAM products will also make their way into the mobile market “in the near future”, enabling mobile manufacturers to “develop even more innovative products”.