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New Leadership Spotlight: Head of HBM PI Unoh Kwon Aims to Finish SK hynix’s HBM Roadmap & Lead in the AI Era

By March 28, 2024 June 24th, 2024 No Comments

Head of HBM PI Unoh Kwon Aims to Finish SK hynix's HBM Roadmap & Lead in the AI Era

As part of efforts to strengthen its competitiveness in the future AI infrastructure market, SK hynix created the AI Infra division and the affiliated HBM1 Business department at the end of 2023. In a key appointment within HBM Business, Vice President Unoh Kwon became head of HBM Process Integration (PI).

While working as a DRAM development research fellow in 2022, Kwon broke new ground by becoming the first to apply the HKMG2 process to the mobile DRAM LPDDR, and this led to the successful development of the ultra-high-speed and low-power LPDDR5X and LPDDR5T. In recognition of his contributions, Kwon was awarded the SUPEX Award3 in 2023.

1High Bandwidth Memory (HBM): A high-value, high-performance product that revolutionizes data processing speeds by connecting multiple DRAM chips with through-silicon via (TSV). There are five generations of HBM, starting with the original HBM and followed by HBM2, HBM2E, HBM3, and the latest HBM3E—an extended version of HBM3. SK hynix is the first in the world to begin mass production of HBM3E.
2High-K metal gate (HKMG): A next-generation process that uses a material with a high dielectric constant (K) as an insulating film inside the DRAM transistor to prevent leakage current and improve capacitance. It enables faster speeds while reducing power consumption.
3SUPEX Award: As the most prestigious award within SK Group that carries the meaning “super excellent,” it recognizes members who have successfully realized innovations by not being afraid to take on new challenges.

With his strong technical background, Kwon has been tasked with finishing the future roadmap for the company’s HBM technology. As part of the newsroom’s series focusing on new executive members at SK hynix, Kwon spoke about his vision to develop the next generation of HBM technology and his strategies for the AI era.

Improving Development Efficiency Through HBM-Focused, Integrated HBM Business Department

Kwon anticipates the HBM Business department will bring greater efficiency while enhancing employees’ technical capabilities

Kwon anticipates the HBM Business department will bring greater efficiency while enhancing employees’ technical capabilities


With the continuous evolution of AI, demand has also rapidly increased for HBM—a representative memory product for the technology. “I feel a great sense of pride and responsibility to take on this role when there are high expectations for SK hynix’s HBM products,” said Kwon. “With the combined experience and challenging spirit of employees who developed the world’s best-performing HBM, we will do our best to achieve the next generation of technological innovations.”

In a move to improve the efficiency and synergy of HBM production from the development phase to the manufacturing and commercialization stages, SK hynix merged the various departments in charge of these processes into HBM Business. This rare, product-focused reorganization demonstrates the company’s commitment to maintaining its HBM leadership.

Kwon cites the HBM Business department’s high efficiency as its biggest strength. By shortening the decision-making process at the beginning of product development, members can quickly coordinate among themselves and execute projects. Furthermore, as the development team can hear feedback directly from customers, the team can reflect customer values during product development.

“Possessing the united goal of advancing HBM, our department has created an environment where we can focus on our technical capabilities and demonstrate them to the fullest,” Kwon stated. “Consequently, our members have been able to take a more goal-orientated view. What’s more, I can now also analyze what is needed for our technology to grow from a business perspective, and I plan to use this skill to contribute significantly to our efforts.”

Harnessing Unique Semiconductor Fundamental Technology to Revolutionize HBM

Kwon plans to use his previous experience in system semiconductors to advance HBM technology

Kwon plans to use his previous experience in system semiconductors to advance HBM technology


When asked about the biggest achievement of his career, Kwon chose the application of the HKMG process to LPDDR in 2022. The HKMG process ranks as one of the most significant innovations in semiconductor fundamental technology4. Although it was applied early on in system semiconductors, HKMG was not easy to implement in mobile DRAM semiconductor memories where the leakage current needs to be controlled to minimize power consumption.

4Fundamental technology: A key technology used for implementing changes and improvements to product characteristics.

Using his past experience at a different global tech company where he successfully applied the HKMG process in system semiconductors, Kwon was once again able to break the technical barriers in mobile DRAM. “It meant a lot to be a part of collective efforts with SK hynix members to make the technological breakthrough of changing the paradigm of memory circuit structures,” Kwon exclaimed.

“As a product featuring advanced and complex technology, HBM can be said to be the most technologically intensive DRAM around,” he explained. “HBM is also the main reason I decided to take on the challenge of shifting my focus from system semiconductors to semiconductor memories.” Fascinated by HBM’s ability to spark the convergence of systems and memory, Kwon now plans to concentrate all his technical skills for another breakthrough.

“I expected that there would come a time when performance improvements would go beyond established scaling and reach technological advancements deriving from the convergence of structures, devices, and processes between system semiconductors and semiconductor memories,” Kwon said. “As I predicted that there would be new opportunities for innovation driven by semiconductor memories, I was convinced that HBM was the beginning of this technological revolution. That is why I am more committed than ever to leverage my experiences to create bigger synergies for SK hynix’s HBM technology.”

Confidently Taking on Unforeseen Challenges During the AI era

Kwon believes that adaptability and a challenging spirit will bring innovations in the AI era

Kwon believes that adaptability and a challenging spirit will bring innovations in the AI era


Commenting on the outlook of the HBM market, Kwon said that “HBM will become specialized and customized to reflect the values sought by customers.” He stressed that in addition to excellent functional capabilities, the next generation of HBM will need to work as a specialty product differentiated for each customer and have a role that goes beyond memory.

“As we enter the AI era, we are witnessing an unprecedented level of rapid change,” Kwon said. “It is now more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve and react flexibly to changes. To maintain our technological leadership and to lead in the AI era, HBM PI is working hard to develop technologies which will lead to the innovation of fundamental technologies and rapid commercialization of products. We are also actively engaging and collaborating with customers and external partners.”

Kwon also emphasized the importance of not only adapting to changes but also of broadening one’s horizons and taking on challenges to achieve innovations.

“In the future, AI memory will go beyond its current focus on data centers to expand into areas that meet certain purposes. These include ASICs5 with improved performance and efficiency or on-device solutions that are optimized for customers’ products,” Kwon claimed. “HBM will not be the only AI memory in use as various types of DRAMs will also become essential memory for AI. Additionally, semiconductor devices will have to be developed to meet various required conditions including traditional characteristics. In a period of such drastic change, it is important to broaden our horizons to create essential synergies by fusing various technologies together, proactively challenge ourselves, and use our setbacks to get up and test ourselves again.”  

5Application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC): Also known as a custom semiconductor, an ASIC is an integrated circuit designed for a specific purpose.

In closing, Kwon encouraged SK hynix employees to take pride in leading important changes in the AI era.

“There have been many technological breakthroughs in history, but the changes brought on by AI are bigger and greater than ever,” he said. “SK hynix is driving these significant shifts with its industry-leading technological competitiveness. All of our members have an important role in the AI era, and I will continue to strengthen HBM’s capabilities with a great sense of pride and responsibility.”


<Other articles from this series>

New Leadership Spotlight: SK hynix’s First Female Research Fellow, Vice President Oh Haesoon, on Advancing NAND Flash

New Leadership Spotlight: SK hynix’s Youngest Exec, Lee Donghun, Discusses Spearheading NAND Flash Development

New Leadership Spotlight: Vice President Kitae Kim, Head of HBM Sales & Marketing, on Future-Proofing HBM’s Market Leadership

New Leadership Spotlight: Vice President Hoyoung Son Targets SK hynix’s Evolution Into Total AI Memory Provider Through Advanced Packaging Tech

Leadership Spotlight: Deoksin Kil, Head of Material Development, On Achieving Tech Innovation Through Advanced Materials

New Leadership Spotlight: Global RTC Head Jaeyun Yi Aims to Present a New Paradigm for the Future of Semiconductors

New Leadership Spotlight: SK hynix Execs Join Roundtable to Discuss Company’s AI Memory Leadership & Future Market Trends