Why SK hynix continues to raise the bar

By February 18, 2021 March 11th, 2021 No Comments

At SK hynix, we understand rapid technology shifts and the needs of our customers innately. With nearly 5 decades of industry experience under our belt, it is in our DNA to quickly, carefully and efficiently react to the changing landscape around us.

It is the reason that our company carries an incredible influence in the memory market, and continues to push the envelope year over year, often topping our past accomplishments. This past December, we decided to raise the bar again with the completion of developing the industry’s most multilayered 176-layer 512 Gigabit (Gb) Triple-Level Cell (TLC) 4D NAND flash.

Our engineers, developers, researchers and strategists continue changing the game, and it is why we have a proven track record of bringing exceptional, high-performance, reliable products to market. In this article, we let you hear from our talented team first-hand about what it is like to raise the bar once again.

Meet the Experts

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Doogon Kim
Project Leader (PL), NAND Development, Design

What was your role in the development of the 176-Layer NAND Flash?

• “I am in charge of designing 176-Layer 4D 512Gb TLC Core/Analog, securing the world’s No. 1 Net Die, timing performance and power competitiveness. I introduced a 2-division cell array selection technology in order to overcome the deterioration of Program/Read performance due to the increase of Core Loading coming from the technology development in 4D NAND Flash.”

What improvements have been made in the 176-Layer 4D NAND Flash compared to previous products?

• “It significantly contributed to the cost competitiveness by improving ‘Bit Growth’ compared to the previous products, and it enhances the performance by 15% in Program/Read performance improvement solutions.”

How will the new 176-Layer 4D NAND Flash immediately benefit the industry?

• “I believe that 176-Layer NAND Flash products can activate more distribution of NAND Flash products in our everyday lives. It is the world’s best performance and cost competitiveness through improved bit growth.”


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Byeongchan Bang
Technical Leader (TL), NAND Development, PI (Process Integration)

What is the role of your work as a technical leader in the development of the 176-layer 4D NAND flash?

• “I work on the Gate-2 Module within the Progress Integration (PI). PI engineers of modules design, optimize, and improve the module unit process or the entire process to satisfy the specifications in terms of performance/reliability/quality in product development.”

What was the most difficult part when developing the technology? How did you overcome that?

• “When the height between cell layers is reduced, the basic characteristics of the cell deteriorate (increased resistance and interference between cells), which makes the process more difficult; However, the unit process problem is affected by the plug hold process, which divides the layers into very vulnerable ones and less vulnerable ones. Using the difference between layers, we overcame the problem by partially increasing the height between weaker cell layers only.
In other words, the height between cell layers was reduced overall, but we’ve increased the height between the cell layers that are vulnerable to performance and process problems.”

How do you expect the daily lives of those who use the 176-layer product to improve?

• “The 176-layer product is a high-capacity, high-performance (1.6 Gbps speed target) product. Those who use the 176-layer product will be able to use a larger capacity of the memory at a higher speed. Ultimately, in line with the recent 5G era, they will be able to experience faster data storage and transmission.”


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Wonyeol Choi
Project Leader (PL), NAND Development, PnR

How long have you worked at SK hynix and what is your role?

• “I have been with the company for 21 years, and my main role is to optimize the characteristics of NAND cells to improve the yield and achieve a certain level of performance. However, to play the role properly, collaboration with the related departments is very important. For this reason, I pay the most attention to playing the role of a channel to maximize the synergy of collaboration between devices/processes/designs/products.”

What effect do you think the 176-layer product will have when other NAND products are developed in the future?

• “The 176-layer product increased the degree of freedom in development by breaking the link as follows: Increasing the number of stacks, the method adopted by existing 3D products -> Increase in the number of available voltages + Increase in the number of groups by floor -> Increase in chip size -> Weakened product competitiveness.”


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Sanggil Lee
Technical Leader (TL), NAND Development, Process

What is your unique role on the team?

• “I am a photolithography engineer, and I implement fine patterns by making alignments between the lower layer and the current layer. My main task includes new device development setup and scheme development. The main things I manage include CD, overlay, and defect control.”

What was your priority when planning the 176-layer product?

• “In a situation where the number of NAND stacking layers was continuously increasing, I focused on implementing process management using the technology equivalent to or better than the existing company. Also, I focused on improving the process margin by developing materials and equipment (including measurement methods) to enable mass-production of the product. When developing 3D/4D NAND, I put importance on how to accurately correct the real cell between high layers in particular.”

Which customers will benefit most thanks to the 176-layer product?

• “The product will be used to benefit those in the high-capacity, high-efficiency SSD market.”


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Hyeyoung Lee
Technical Leader (TL), NAND Product Planning

How long have you been with the company, and what was your role in the development of the 176-Layer NAND Flash?

• “I have been working at SK hynix for 17 years since 2004. In this project, I selected the density of this product based on the review of the NAND Market and solution line-up. Afterwards, I reviewed NAND/Solution line-up in detail, discussed the spec target under discussion and consultation with the relevant departments.”

What was the most important part when planning the 176-Layer NAND Flash products?

• “A performance target setting according to cost reduction compared to existing technology and introduction of IO speed 1.6Gbps. Thanks to this, we expect improved performance of the solution’s sequential read and random read.”

How will 176-Layer 4D NAND Flash improve people’s everyday lives?

• “We expect to see the increase of the storage capacity in smartphones and laptops with the cost reduction at 176-level.”

Layer by layer

We will continue to lead the 4th industrial revolution with top-tier technology and overcoming obstacles brick-by-brick and layer-by-layer. SK hynix is the pioneer of 4D NAND, and we will continue to lead the NAND flash market with the industry’s highest productivity and technology.

Innovation is at the core of all our products – and at the core of our entire business philosophy. In the near future, we plan to consistently enhance our competitiveness in the industry by developing another advanced product based on 176-layer 4D NAND and raise the bar once more.