3D Memory Revolution: SK Hynix Redefines Logic and Memory Integration

SK Hynix is currently the market leader in HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) products, holding the largest market share and serving as a principal memory supplier for NVIDIA’s data center GPUs. Presently, SK Hynix, Samsung, and Micron are all developing the next generation of HBM4, which is expected to feature a 2048-bit interface.

According to Joongang.co.kr, SK Hynix is actively recruiting designers for logic semiconductors such as CPUs and GPUs, to integrate future HBM4 technology in 3D stacks atop logic cores. This approach bears a resemblance to AMD’s 3D V-Cache technology, offering higher capacity and lower cost, albeit at a slower speed. This innovation is set to transform not only the interconnectivity of logic and memory chips but also their manufacturing methods. If SK Hynix’s plan succeeds, it could significantly alter the operational dynamics of the foundry industry.

It is understood that SK Hynix is in discussions with chip design companies, including NVIDIA, regarding integrated design solutions for HBM4. SK Hynix and NVIDIA may collaborate from the outset, likely choosing to manufacture at TSMC, using wafer bonding technology to mount SK Hynix’s HBM4 onto logic chips. Such collaboration is essential for enabling the memory and logic semiconductors to function cohesively as a unit.

From a cost perspective, this integrated design is viable, simplifying chip design and reducing expenses, though it poses thermal challenges. With current data center computing cards consuming several hundred watts, even just the HBM component is power-intensive, necessitating complex cooling solutions.

Adopting this integrated approach also necessitates a transformation in chip design and manufacturing. The memory and logic chips will employ the same process technology and be produced in the same wafer fabrication facility, ensuring optimal performance. While this could significantly increase DRAM costs, stakeholders have yet to seriously consider this approach.

Industry insiders suggest that within the next decade, the “rules of the game” in the semiconductor industry may shift, with the distinction between memory and logic semiconductors becoming increasingly blurred.