The South Korean technology giant announced today a new era for DRAM production.
Samsung announced today the launch of mass production of 10nm class DRAM. for the first time DRAM is made with a scale of under 20nm. In 2014, Samsung was first with 20nm DRAM mass production. Within 2 years, the company managed to jump to a new scale for DRAM production.
“Samsung’s 10nm-class DRAM will enable the highest level of investment efficiency in IT systems, thereby becoming a new growth engine for the global memory industry,” said Young-Hyun Jun, President of Memory Business, Samsung Electronics. “In the near future, we will also launch next-generation, 10nm-class mobile DRAM products with high densities to help mobile manufacturers develop even more innovative products that add to the convenience of mobile device users.”
10nm-class denotes a process technology node somewhere between 10 and 19 nanometers, while 20nm-class means a process technology node somewhere between 20 and 29 nanometers. It does not mean that Samsung is making 10nm chips. The company did not disclose at what exact scale they are able to produce DDR4 DRAM. 10nm is the next milestone for chip makers. TSMC is supposed to roll out 10nm production technology this year. 7nm silicon technology is also already on the horizon.
Samsung’s leading-edge 10nm-class 8Gb DDR4 DRAM significantly improves the wafer productivity of 20nm 8Gb DDR4 DRAM by more than 30 percent.
The new DRAM supports a data transfer rate of 3,200 megabits per second (Mbps), which is more than 30 percent faster than the 2,400Mbps rate of 20nm DDR4 DRAM.
Also, new modules produced from the 10nm-class DRAM chips consume 10 to 20 percent less power, compared to their 20nm-process-based equivalents, which will improve the design efficiency of next-generation, high-performance computing (HPC) systems and other large enterprise networks, as well as being used for the PC and mainstream server markets.
The industry-first 10nm-class DRAM is the result of Samsung’s advanced memory design and manufacturing technology integration. To achieve an extremely high level of DRAM scalability, Samsung has taken its technological innovation one step further than what was used for 20nm DRAM. Key technology developments include improvements in proprietary cell design technology, QPT (quadruple patterning technology) lithography, and ultra-thin dielectric layer deposition.
Unlike NAND flash memory, in which a single cell consists of only a transistor, each DRAM cell requires a capacitor and a transistor that are linked together, usually with the capacitor being placed on top of the area where the transistor rests. In the case of the new 10nm-class DRAM, another level of difficulty is added because they have to stack very narrow cylinder-shaped capacitors that store large electric charges, on top of a few dozen nanometer-wide transistors, creating more than eight billion cells.
Samsung successfully created the new 10nm-class cell structure by utilizing a proprietary circuit design technology and quadruple patterning lithography. Through quadruple patterning, which enables use of existing photolithography equipment, Samsung also built the core technological foundation for the development of the next-generation 10nm-class DRAM (1y).
In addition, the use of a refined dielectric layer deposition technology enabled further performance improvements in the new 10nm-class DRAM. Samsung engineers applied ultra-thin dielectric layers with unprecedented uniformity to a thickness of a mere single-digit angstrom (one 10 billionth of a meter) on cell capacitors, resulting in sufficient capacitance for higher cell performance.
Based on its advancements with the new 10nm-class DDR4 DRAM, Samsung expects to also introduce a 10nm-class mobile DRAM solution with high density and speed later this year, which will further solidify its leadership in the ultra-HD smartphone market.
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While introducing a wide array of 10nm-class DDR4 modules with capacities ranging from 4GB for notebook PCs to 128GB for enterprise servers, Samsung will be extending its 20nm DRAM line-up with its new 10nm-class DRAM portfolio throughout the year.