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Micron challenges Samsung and SK hynix in semiconductor race

Micron Technology made waves in the semiconductor industry by announcing the completion of its LPDDR5X development using the world’s first 10-nanometer-class 1β (beta) process. This breakthrough positioned Micron a generation ahead of industry giants Samsung Electronics and SK hynix.

On June 3 at Asia’s largest IT exhibition, “Computex 2024,” held in Taipei, Taiwan, NVIDIA unveiled the mass-produced product of its next-generation AI superchip, the ‘GB200’, to a select group of domestic and international journalists. The GB200, which combines two Blackwell GPUs with an NVIDIA-designed CPU based on the Arm architecture, is set to be released by the end of this year and is priced at over $70,000 per unit. Despite its hefty price tag, the demand for the GB200 is so high that it is difficult to obtain.

During the unveiling, NVIDIA covered the GPU of the GB200 with a case, leaving the supplier of the 5th generation high-bandwidth memory (HBM3E) undisclosed. However, it was revealed that the CPU and memory semiconductor at the bottom of the GB200 chip were supplied by Micron. This collaboration underscores Micron’s significant strides in the semiconductor market.

On June 5, at the same exhibition, Pravin Vaidyanathan, Vice President of Micron, highlighted the company’s competitive edge, stating, “Micron HBM3E’s power efficiency is up to 30% better than competitors.” This statement reflects Micron’s confidence in its technological advancements and its aggressive strategy to capture a larger market share.

Micron’s LPDDR5X, developed using the 1β process, is already known to be installed in Apple’s iPhone 15 series, showcasing its commercial viability and performance. Meanwhile, Samsung plans to begin mass production of LPDDR5X based on the 1b process in the second half of this year, indicating a fierce competition ahead.

Micron’s ambitious plans do not stop there. The company aims to increase its market share to 25% by 2025 and is set to invest in a new factory in Taichung, Taiwan, this year. Additionally, Micron will receive subsidies worth 8.4 trillion KRW from the U.S. government to build additional factories, further bolstering its production capabilities.

The semiconductor industry has taken note of Micron’s rapid advancements. Choi Jung-dong, an industry expert, remarked, “When the U.S. lab researches the 1st and 3rd generation processes, the Japanese lab handles the 2nd and 4th generation processes. Over the past five years, they have nearly halved the development time compared to competitors.” This ‘zigzag’ strategy has allowed Micron to stay ahead in the technological race.

However, the competition is not without its challenges. An industry insider noted, “Although there are still many issues with production volume and yield, in terms of performance alone, many evaluations suggest Micron is the most advanced.” This sentiment is echoed by another insider who stated, “Latecomers like Micron are taking aggressive, almost gambling-like strategies to compete.”

Samsung Electronics, recognizing the shifting dynamics, has recently formed an internal task force to comprehensively review the process from development to production following the 1b process. Jeon Young-hyun, the new head of Samsung’s DS division, reportedly diagnosed that Samsung’s DRAM leadership is shaking and has immediately begun devising solutions. An industry insider commented, “Even if it takes some time, Samsung needs to thoroughly check its DRAM competitiveness and widen the gap again.”

As the semiconductor industry continues to evolve, the competition among Samsung, SK hynix and Micron is expected to intensify. With Micron’s bold strategies and technological advancements, the landscape of the DRAM and HBM markets is poised for significant shifts in the coming years. Business Korea

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