The Korea Herald


SK hynix joins with TSMC to produce High Bandwidth Memory 4

By Jo He-rim

Published : April 19, 2024 - 13:22

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An employee is seen behind the SK hynix logo at its headquarters in Seongnam, South Korea, April 25, 2016. (Reuters-Yonhap) An employee is seen behind the SK hynix logo at its headquarters in Seongnam, South Korea, April 25, 2016. (Reuters-Yonhap)

SK hynix is joining hands with TSMC, the world’s top foundry, to develop High Bandwidth Memory 4 and cutting-edge packaging technology, the company said on Friday.

Under the partnership agreement, the two sides plan to proceed with the development of HBM4, the sixth-generation model of the advanced memory chip, and enhance logic and HBM integration through advanced packaging technology, SK hynix said.

"We expect a strong partnership with TSMC to help accelerate our efforts for open collaboration with our customers and develop the industry’s best-performing HBM4," Kim Joo-sun, president and head of AI Infra at SK hynix, said.

“With this cooperation in place, we will strengthen our market leadership as the total AI memory provider further by beefing up competitiveness in the space of the custom memory platform.”

It is the first time TSMC has forged a partnership with another firm for technological development. Taiwan-based contract chip supplier TSMC produces about 92 percent of the world's advanced chips, whereas SK hynix is the world's second-largest memory chipmaker.

“TSMC and SK hynix have already established a strong partnership over the years. We’ve worked together in integrating the most advanced logic and state-of-the art HBM in providing the world’s leading AI solutions,” Kevin Zhang, senior vice president of TSMC’s Business Development and Overseas Operations Office and deputy co-chief operating officer, said.

“Looking ahead to the next-generation HBM4, we’re confident that we will continue to work closely in delivering the best-integrated solutions to unlock new AI innovations for our common customers.”

Their collaboration comes with the goal of gaining an upper hand at a time when competition in the burgeoning AI chip market is intensifying globally.

According to SK hynix, the collaboration would enable breakthroughs in memory performance via their expertise in product design, foundry and memory chips.

The two companies will first focus on improving the performance of the base die that is mounted at the very bottom of the HBM package, SK hynix explained. The base die located at the bottom is connected to the graphics processing unit, which controls the HBM.

While the Korean memory chipmaker has has used a proprietary technology to make base dies up to the fifth-generation HBM3E, it plans to adopt TSMC’s advanced logic process for HBM4’s base die so that additional functionality can be packed into limited space, SK hynix said.

This will help SK hynix produce customized HBM that meets a wide range of customer demand for performance and power efficiency, the company added.

Following the generative artificial intelligence boom, HBM have become crucial components for speeding up the AI process, supporting AI processors such as GPUs.

SK hynix is currently dominating the burgeoning HBM market, taking some 50 percent of the market share. Runner-up Samsung Electronics chases SK with a close margin while US-based Micron Technology takes about 3 to 5 percent of the market share, according to TrendForce, a market tracker.