Samsung has completed development of its 3rd-generation 10 nm-class manufacturing process for DRAM as well as the first 8 Gb DDR4 chip that uses the technology. The 1z-nm process technology is said to be the world’s smallest process node for memory, and will enable Samsung to increase productivity without needing to go to extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) at this time. The company plans to start volume production using the technology in the second half of 2019.

Samsung says that its 3rd Generation 10 nm-class manufacturing technology (also known as 1z-nm) for DRAM enables it to make 20% more 8 Gb DDR4 memory chips per wafer than the 2nd Gen 10-nm class (aka 1y-nm) does. An increase of the number of dies per wafer essentially means that the new 8 Gb DDR4 device is approximately 20% smaller* than the previous-gen 8 Gb DRAM, which means a tangible decrease of production costs at the same yield and at the same cycle time. This should mean cheaper DRAM pricies for consumers.

Samsung traditionally does not disclose exact smallest half-pitch size of the new memory device, so at this time we do not have any information about the new chip’s geometries. Since we are dealing with a 1z node, it is reasonable to assume that the smallest half-pitch size is well below 15 nm, but this is speculation.

The world’s largest maker of memory is especially proud that its 3rd Generation 10 nm-class manufacturing technology for DRAM continues to use ArF (argon fluoride) immersion lithography tools and does not require EUVL. Keeping in mind that ultra-thin nodes require multi-patterning in case of immersion lithography, it is logical to assume that Samsung uses this method along with various tricks to ensure good yields and performance.

Samsung will start production of 8 Gb DDR4 memory chips using its 1z-nm fabrication process in the second half of the year. The first products based on the 8 Gb 1z chips will be DDR4 DRAM modules. Once they are validated by CPU designers, they will be used for PCs in 2020.

Going forward, the same manufacturing technology will be used to produce DRAMs with “higher capacities and performance”.

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Source: Samsung

*Note: This is a very rough calculation.

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  • spaceship9876 - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    "This should mean cheaper DRAM pricies for consumers." - good joke :P

    This will mean higher profits for samsung not lower prices, many ram manufacturers have already decided to reduce production in order to keep prices high. We need more companies producing ram to bring down prices. China has just built some but they are using 22nm or something and only low volume.
  • ksec - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    The price of DRAM has already been in free fall for months are we are already back to late 2016 levels, and on course to reach 2016 or even lowest $/GB Memory in 2019 assuming no further rebounce.

    These 10nm class DRAM will allow them to sustain their operation and profits even in 2016 DRAM price level, which is good for everyone.
  • Freeb!rd - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    Memory prices are down from their highs, BUT...

    We are NOWHERE NEAR late 2016 prices, unless you mean high latency 2400 Mhz DDR4. I paid $219 for 2x16GB Trident Z 3000Mhz CL14 DDR4 and bought two sets for a total of ~$440 in March 2017 for a new Ryzen build. Now it's still hard to find CL14 DDR4 3000; mainly because anything with that latency is also sold at higher latency/speeds and prices.
  • valinor89 - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    Considering the current DRAM glut is said to be mainly linked to Intel CPU shortages it might still be reasonable to keep investing in more fabs or new tech as those shortages will not last too long considering the grand scheme of things where product production has a lead up time of years.

    Is mobile phone, or other non PC, DRAM also getting soo cheap?
  • close - Friday, March 22, 2019 - link

    Product *development* has a lead time. Product *production*, meaning ramping up production, has close to no lead time. How is knowing the shortage won't last encouraging them to invest in new factories? New factories means higher production (so supply), which means lower prices. So you expect them to spend money to build factories that make their product worth even less?

    Come on, don't they teach any economic concept in school these days?

    The only thing that could help now (other than any legal investigation that might prove a price fixing cartel) is for the new Chinese players to force themselves into the market by flooding it.
  • ksec - Friday, March 22, 2019 - link

    I argued it has more to do with Mobile Phone shipment slowed down more than Intel CPU shortages.
    Intel isn't producing less chips, they were more demand than supply, and you would imagine the demand also means DRAM purchase. And yet this didn't happen. i.e The 5% missing shipment, or actually 20% Q4 YoY decline had more DRAM capacity left than what ever Server + PC market had combined.
  • e1jones - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    Lol, right!?

    Dram is a commodity, generally speaking. More ram will eventually lower prices for end users, but in the meantime it's just more money for the manufacturer. *cough*notacartel*cough*
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    the problem with ever increasing automation of production is that it increases the fixed cost of production; you can't fire a machine. even if you turn it off, you still have to pay the vig. the only way around the problem is to move more product. the problem with that is the manufacturer doesn't control aggregate demand for its product, so the only out is to reduce price in hopes that demand will follow. not necessarily.
  • quiksilvr - Thursday, March 21, 2019 - link

    You can totally fire the machine by replacing it with a FASTER machine.
  • rpg1966 - Friday, March 22, 2019 - link

    I don't think you understand what's involved here.

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