In the world of semiconductors, size does matter. The smaller the better. However, traditional manufacturing methods often limit how compact a chip can be. Fortunately, the industry is working hard to pioneer new methods of lithography that will enable the production of smaller chips.
Samsung is leading the way in the field of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) production. It announced on Wednesday that it is the first company to ship a memory product produced with an EUV process. It shipped the first million units of its 10nm-grade DDR4 DRAM modules.
The idea of using EUV in widescale semiconductor production is relatively new. As such, Samsung’s achievement of being the first manufacturer to ship parts created with it is impressive.
The one million units of DRAM it shipped successfully passed global customer evaluations. According to the South Korean electronics giant, the chips boast improved pattern accuracy. This, in turn, leads to increased performance on the consumer end. For chipmakers, it facilitates higher yields and also shortens development times.
Another benefit of the EUV process is that there are fewer bad chips in each batch. Late last year, Samsung suffered a multi-million-dollar DRAM contamination issue in one of its production facilities. As such, the chipmaker’s plans to fully embrace EUV manufacturing isn’t surprising.
Jung-bae Lee, Samsung’s executive vice president of DRAM product and technology, says, “With the production of our new EUV-based DRAM, we are demonstrating our full commitment toward providing revolutionary DRAM solutions in support of our global IT customers.”
Despite the fact that EUV production is likely the future of the semiconductor industry, consumers shouldn’t expect their devices to contain the new chips anytime soon. Samsung doesn’t plan to have a second factory ready for the production method until later this year. The new fabrication line will be located in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.
Of course, that timeline could see delays due to supply chain issues due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Moreover, Samsung won’t start producing its faster DDR5 memory chips with the new process until 2021. As such, this breakthrough should be viewed as a preview of what the future of chip production will look like.
As the number of devices continues to grow at a shocking rate, chipmakers will need to ramp up DRAM production in the coming years. Utilizing EUV technology will give Samsung a huge advantage in the scalability department.