SK Hynix to join 3D NAND competition this year

The company's CEO has announced the production of 36-layer 3D NAND by the end of the year, and 48-stack 3D NAND next year, as well as plans to boost production of DRAM.

SK Hynix, South Korea's second-largest semiconductor firm, will begin production of 3D NAND flash within this year, the company CEO has said.

CEO Park Sung-wook told reporters at a local industry tradeshow near Seoul that the firm will begin production of 36-layer NAND this year and 48-stack NAND next year.

Among memory chip vendors, compatriot Samsung was the first to launch 3D NAND. In 2013, it launched the industry's first 24-layer V-NAND. This year in August, it launched a 48-layer 256GB V-NAND. Toshiba and Micron are also preparing to start commercialisation of 3D NANDs.

In 3D NAND, memory cells are stacked vertically, allowing for more memory capacity in small spaces.

"We will begin production of 36-layer 3D NANDs this year first so that our technology is verified and we can work on optimisation with our clients," said Park.

SK Hynix also plans to expand production of 20-nanometer DRAMs within the year. The company began operating its new plant, the M14, where production for 20-nanometer DRAMs will be ramped up. Samsung is already mass producing the goods and supplying them to clients.

"Initially, we faced some difficulty applying the 20-nanometer process, due to application of new technology, but now the production rate has stabilised," said the CEO. "We've already sent samples to clients and [they are] preparing for production."

Though DRAM and NAND flashes will be the prime focuses, in the long run, Park said the firm is interested in producing processors.

"We don't have the necessary competence, so M&A is out of the question [for processors]," he said. "We want to grow our competence in foundry [contract-making] and system semiconductor first."