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SK hynix becomes first to mass produce HBM3E chips

Nvidia highly likely to receive first shipment of advanced memory chips

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : March 19, 2024 - 15:31

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SK hynix's latest HBM3E chips (SK hynix) SK hynix's latest HBM3E chips (SK hynix)

SK hynix, the world’s second-largest memory chip maker, said Tuesday it has begun mass production of its latest HBM3E chips, the next-generation top-performing DRAM for artificial intelligence applications, solidifying its leadership position in the High Bandwidth Memory market.

The chip maker said it will deliver the new chips to its clients at the end of this month after finishing the verification process. SK hynix is a major supplier to the US AI chip leader Nvidia but declined to reveal the client for the first shipment.

The announcement comes about seven months after the Korean company announced the development of the fifth-generation HBM3E chips in August. SK hynix said it is the first provider of HBM3E products, and mass production of the latest chips will extend its earlier success with the previous HBM3 chips.

"With the success story of the HBM business and the strong partnership with customers that it has built for years, SK hynix will cement its position as the total AI memory provider," said Ryu Sung-soo, head of HBM business at the company.

HBM chips dramatically enhance data processing speed compared to conventional DRAM products, making them indispensable memory components for AI systems, such as OpenAI's ChatGPT. HBM3E, the extended version of HBM3, is the fifth generation of HBM chips.

The chipmaker said its latest HBM3E product is the industry's best in all the aspects required for AI memory, including speed and heat control. It processes up to 1.18 terabytes of data per second, which is equivalent to processing more than 230 full-HD movies, 5 gigabytes each, in a second.

In the competitive HBM market, SK hynix was able to rapidly increase its DRAM market share through its exclusive HBM supply deal with Nvidia. Its market share in HBM3 and more advanced HBM products for Nvidia is estimated at above 80 percent, and it holds over 90 percent of the HBM3 market, according to industry sources.

Competition to secure the HBM leadership is heating up among global chipmakers.

Micron Technology, a US-based chipmaker, announced last month that it started mass production of HBM3E for Nvidia's H200 Tensor Core graphics processing units. But industry sources say that SK hynix was the first to mass-produce the new chips considering the Korean firm's advancement in preliminary production.

Last month, Samsung, the world's No. 1 memory chip maker, also announced that it developed HBM3E 12H, the industry’s first 12-stack HBM3E DRAM and the highest-capacity HBM product.