Culture & People

Introducing Grand Prize Winners from SK hynix’s ”2nd Innovative Patent Award”

By January 16, 2020 No Comments

Even now, SK hynix employees are committing themselves to developing cutting-edge technologies with the firm belief their innovations hold the potential to transform the world. At the same time, SK hynix is responding to this new-found dedication through its “2nd Innovative Patent Award”. The Company held “2nd Innovative Patent Award Ceremony” on December 23, 2019, to recognize the employees making contributions to SK hynix’s business performance and development of new technologies. At the ceremony, 11 teams were awarded, which played important roles in strengthening SK hynix’s technological competitiveness through the development of patented technologies.

SK hynix Newsroom met with the grand prize winners, Seokcheol Yoon Project Leader (PL), Boyeun Kim Technical Leader (TL), and Jaeboum Park TL, who were all recognized for their work toward a patented technology that improves DRAM refresh function. The Newsroom looked deeper into the innovation they pioneered that had a beneficial impact on SK hynix’s business.

Driven by their Tenacity, the Technological Innovation Achieves Both Performance and Sales Improvement

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Yoon, Kim and Park received the grand prize during the ceremony for their contributions to enhance performance and sales by improving the Company’s DRAM refresh function. It all started in 2013, when all three of them worked together in DRAM Development Division. Following the development of DRAM processing technology, cell density increased which resulted in Bit Flipping phenomenon causing interference between internal elements. With the continuous shrink of DRAM fabrication process, this was considered as an inevitable problem. (SK hynix’s DRAM fabrication technology has currently reached 1Znm level.)

As a team, they put their heads together and looked for an answer in different perspectives, and Yoon came up with a new approach, which was to improve refresh function.

DRAMs store data by accumulating electric charges in cells, meaning they lose stored data as accumulated charges leak gradually. Refresh function prevents data loss by regenerating cells and further preserving data. The more the team examined their new idea, the more they were convinced that the improvement of refresh function can resolve the emerging problem.

 

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Nevertheless, the path to a solution was long and arduous. Yoon recalled, “I suggested utilizing this technology during a brainstorming session, but the experts were far from convinced. Because the new circuit design was a completely different approach. Many were doubtful whether the technology can be realized or not.”

Still, the team members didn’t stop pushing the limit, because they had a strong belief in the potential of this technology. The only way to persuade other members was to prove the potential of the technology through numerous simulations, and the team strived with endurance for a month. Park recalled this stage by saying, “The most difficult part was persuading people. I remember that we even had endless debates with experts from each department.”

As the saying “faith can move mountains” goes, their determination and persistence paid off when other members began to see the potential of this new concept. With a new sense of confidence, the team started to establish a circuit-focused countermeasure to avoid data loss in particular cells. After a long and challenging pursuit, they were finally able to apply for a patent for their unique technology that enhances refresh function of DRAMs.

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This achievement not only improved product performance, but was also highly credited for a significant contribution for the sales increase. It was indeed an outstanding achievement across every aspect of the Company’s business, from product performance, mass-production cost, to profitability.

Kim emphasized the meaning of the results, by saying, “Above all, it was an amazing achievement that proved the excellent technology competitiveness of SK hynix as a technology company. It is an achievement which cannot be numerically assessed.”

“With Colleagues, Any Difficult Problem Can Be Overcome”

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The semiconductor market is unpredictable, with both small and large crises occurring at any time, and it is the reason why how we cope with such crises is important. In the background of SK hynix’s constant growth to date, there exists a unique power which the Company shows its potential even more during a crisis. This case of just three people making the difference is meaningful because it proves to all employees that by facing challenges with tenacity, we have the capability to solve any problem.

Yoon said, “With or without me, I sincerely believe the people at SK hynix would have solved this problem. The Company has never failed to solve difficult challenges it faced so far, and it will surely overcome the great challenges the future has in store.”

Park said, “It’s true that balancing the time spent on developing innovative technologies and carrying out daily work tasks is far from simple. However, it’s important to continue thinking of ideas in daily lives, to seize an opportunity when it arrives.”

As mentioned above, employees of SK hynix constantly think of innovative ideas even in daily office hours, with a firm belief that they can solve the difficult problems. However, an effort isn’t always enough to invent an innovative technology. As there has been a solid corporate system where the Company shows innovative technological directions for employees and awards successful contributions accordingly, each member was able to enjoy their pursuit toward innovations with greater motivations.

 

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Especially, when it comes to the impact of Innovative Patent Award, a positive internal ambiance with greater motivations was created. Before the establishment of Award, the employees’ motivations were already fulfilled with realizations of certain technologies on specific products. After the establishment of Award, however, the Company-wide recognition is now highly motivating all members. In fact, more members are willing to spend their time even after regular office hours to develop innovative patent technologies.

“I think an awarding system such as Innovative Patent Award which recognizes and encourages employees’ innovative achievements certainly provides stimulation with everyone.” said Park, “If the Company suggests technological directions for employees and operates awarding policies such as Innovative Patent Award constantly, members will invest more time and effort into applying for more patents, which will ultimately lead to more technological innovations.”

 

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Along with Innovative Patent Award, SK hynix is devising and implementing various similar policies for the employees striving for technological innovation, with the ultimate goal of inspiring members to contribute to the growth of SK hynix actively and willingly.

Kyunghyun Min, Head of IP Office at SK hynix said, “Besides Innovative Patent Award, SK hynix has been awarding excellent inventions annually since 2013. The Company also operates policies such as granting more awards to the applications and registrations of strategic patents, in comparison to those of general patents. SK hynix has been constantly contemplating various motivating systems in order to build an atmosphere where its members can easily attempt to develop new technologies with no fear for failures. The Company will expand current policies and establish an environment where all employees are highly motivated to devote themselves in the enhancement of the Company’s competitiveness.”

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