The first domestic memory stick was released, filling the domestic storage gap by buying and buying?

February 28th, recall, in 2017~2018, which financial products are the most popular?

The answer is memory sticks. In one year, the price of small memory sticks has tripled, and they are often unavailable.

Memory (DRAM), namely dynamic random access memory, is the largest piece in the semiconductor industry. Whether it is a mobile phone, a PC or a server, DRAM is required as a data transmission channel.

If China still has some presence in the semiconductor industry in areas such as processors, then the storage market is almost zero. Now, a Chinese manufacturer has released the first DDR4 memory stick.

“Smash” out the breakthrough

YMTC, Hefei Changxin and Fujian Jinhua are three prominent memory chip companies in China. YMTC mainly focuses on NAND, which is flash memory, while Changxin and Jinhua are DRAM (dynamic random access memory), which is what we usually say. memory stick.

On February 26, Changxin Storage officially released its DDR4 and LPDDR4X memory chips, as well as DDR4 memory sticks and several products that meet international standards.

Changxin DDR4 memory chips can match the mainstream market demand, support multi-field applications, multi-product combinations, and have sufficient reliability guarantees. In terms of specifications, the single-chip capacity is 8Gb (1GB), the frequency is 2666MHz, the voltage is 1.2V, and the operating temperature is 0℃ to 95℃, 78ball, 96ball FBGA two package styles.

According to previous news, these chips are manufactured using the domestic first-generation 1Xnm-level process, and the monthly production capacity is expected to reach 40,000 wafers by the end of 2020. The LPDDR4X memory chip claims to match the mainstream needs, has both high speed and low power consumption, can provide ultra-high endurance, ultra-low power consumption design, stable and smooth experience, in terms of specifications, a single capacity of 2GB, 4GB, frequency 3733MHz, voltage 1.8V, 1.1 V, 0.6V, operating temperature -30℃ to 85℃, 200ball FBGA package.

In terms of specifications, the LPDDR4X memory chip has a single capacity of 2GB, 4GB, a frequency of 3733MHz, a voltage of 1.8V, 1.1V, 0.6V, an operating temperature of -30°C to 85°C, and a 200ballFBGA package.

In addition to the chip, Changxin also launched a finished memory stick, using its own original memory particles, with a capacity of 8GB, DDR4, and a frequency of 2666Hz.

Of course, this does not mean that you will be able to buy domestic memory sticks right away. At present, the products are not yet on the shelves. Changxin has begun to accept technical and sales consultations for the above-mentioned products, and it is expected to be launched in the near future.

Although DDR4 is not the most advanced technology in industry research and development, in the consumer market, DDR4 memory is still the mainstream, and the frequency is also at an average level.

Hefei Changxin was established in 2016 by Zhaoyi Innovation, former SMIC CEO Wang Ningguo and Hefei Industrial Investment signed an agreement. The main shareholders are Hefei Municipal Government and Beijing Zhaoyi Innovation. There are more than 500 people. CEO Zhu Yiming is also the founder of Zhaoyi Innovation, which is the world’s largest NORFlash supplier.

The establishment and planning of Changxin is a typical “national system” in the semiconductor industry.

In September 2017, the first phase of the National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund announced that it would take a stake in GigaDevice, a domestic memory chip manufacturer, and acquired about 11% of the equity, becoming its second largest shareholder.

The next month, GigaDevice released an announcement announcing the signing of a cooperation agreement with Hefei Production and Investment to develop 12-inch wafer DRAM with a 19nm process. The budget is RMB 18 billion, and GigaDevice will invest 20%. It is expected to be successfully developed by the end of 2018. Achieving a product yield of not less than 10%.

Finally 19nm is long overdue. In 2019, at the 2019 World Manufacturing Conference held in Hefei, Anhui Province, the Changxin memory chip independent manufacturing project with a total investment of about 150 billion yuan was announced to be put into production. The total investment of the entire manufacturing base project exceeded 220 billion yuan, and Changxin also officially announced its independence. The 8GbDDR4 chip developed based on the 19nm process was officially mass-produced.

In December 2019, Changxin Storage Technology Co., Ltd. announced its latest DRAM technology roadmap, which will use the 19nm process to produce 4Gb and 8Gb DDR4, targeting commercial production in the first quarter of 2020. At present, Changxin’s monthly production capacity is about 20,000 pieces. In addition, Changxin Storage plans to build two more DRAM fabs.

Korean semiconductors have gradually grown in various ultra-large-scale investments and acquisitions, and my country’s semiconductor industry is also on this path.

Changxin, who is chasing technology by “buy, buy, buy”

At present, the global DRAM market is basically divided between the United States and South Korea. The global market share of Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron is about 95%. However, China’s huge demand can only be solved by importing.

The data shows that since 2008, my country’s integrated circuit imports have exceeded crude oil, and it has become my country’s largest imported commodity for 11 consecutive years; from January to September 2019, the import volume of memory chips was 250 million units, a cumulative increase of 9.5%, and the import value It was 113.9 billion yuan, a cumulative increase of 4%.

In 2018, the scene of memory sticks becoming financial products is still vivid in my mind. In order to stabilize market prices and break monopoly, domestic memory manufacturers need to improve their technical strength.

However, it is difficult for latecomers in the semiconductor industry to enter the game. In addition to the high investment in research and development costs, patents are also a key threshold. Industry giants can use patents to crack down on new players. After all, a large number of patents are in the hands of large companies.

Fujian Jinhua suffered a big loss because of the patent issue. Not only was it banned from sales, but its DRAM research and development plan was also suspended.

The most critical wave of Changxin’s operations was in 2019, when it ate a large number of patents from the bankrupt former European memory chip giant Qimonda.

In May 2019, Changxin CEO Zhu Yiming disclosed the company’s patents for the first time in his speech. He said that Changxin obtained a large number of patents from the bankrupt Qimonda, and made innovations on this basis, patent applications. The number has reached 16,000, and there are more than 10 million technical documents about 2.8TB related to DRAM.

At the end of 2019, Changxin announced that it had reached a patent license agreement and a patent purchase agreement with Polaris Innovations Limited, a joint venture subsidiary of WiLAN Inc.

Pursuant to the patent license agreement, Changxin Storage obtained a license from Polaris to implement a large number of DRAM technology patents from Qimonda, including DRAM, FLASH memory, semiconductor process, semiconductor manufacturing, lithography, packaging, semiconductor circuits and memory Interface (MemoryInterfaces) related technologies, including about 5,000 US patents and applications.

Patents are not only to enhance technical strength, but also to bypass the blockade of patents.

Of course, my country’s semiconductor industry is still in the catch-up stage. At present, Changxin Storage has improved Qimonda’s 46nm process to 10nm level, but the process is also divided into high and low.

If expressed in terms of process nodes, the 1xnm process is equivalent to 16~19nm, the 1ynm process is equivalent to 14~16nm, and the 1znm process is equivalent to 12~14nm. In addition, the industry has also planned 1α, 1β and 1γ nodes.

Among them, Changxin’s 10nm memory chip belongs to the first-generation 1xnm, while Micron and SK Hynix have already started mass production of the second-generation 1ynm process. At CES earlier this year, Micron demonstrated 1ynm-based 12GLPDDR5 memory, which was first launched by Xiaomi Mi 10. At the same time, Micron also said that 1znm-level products will be launched later this year.

Samsung Electronics officially announced that it has started mass production of 16GB LPDDR5 memory for flagship mobile phones, and plans to mass produce 16GB LPDDR5 memory based on 10nm-class (1z) processing technology in the second half of this year.

In addition to the process, the production capacity also needs to be improved.

The first phase of Changxin’s investment is about 7.2 billion US dollars, and the estimated production capacity is 125,000 wafers per month. Of course, this is an ideal result. Changxin expects to reach 40,000 wafers per month by the end of 2019, reaching 3% of global production capacity. In contrast, giants such as Samsung can produce 1.3 million pieces per month, and there is still a big gap.

In 2020, the recovering storage market

DRAM is one of the core components of computing equipment, and due to the huge demand, DRAM has been the main force of shipments in the semiconductor industry.

ICInsights “2020~2024 Global Wafer Capacity Report” shows that DRAM sales are expected to drop by 38% in 2019, but will still become the product with the largest sales value among all semiconductor products, accounting for 17% of the total semiconductor sales. Will reach 62 billion US dollars scale.

The decline in sales was largely due to soaring prices in 2018, the year in which DRAM sales exceeded total microprocessor (MPU) sales for the first time since 1990.

The popularity of memory around 2018 was due to the serious shortage of upstream flash memory particles, which led to the difficulty in production of memory chips, and the price soared. Manufacturers sensed business opportunities and began to expand production capacity to fill market vacancies.

But then the market began to slump, overcapacity, and memory chip prices began to fall again.

At present, the market has begun to stabilize, and some institutions are presuming that the market will recover this year. The ICInsights report pointed out that some memory chip factories have restarted capacity expansion plans, and it is expected that the new global wafer production capacity will increase significantly in 2020 and 2021, entering a period of rapid expansion.

Taiwan’s Macronix, a major supplier of memory chips to Nintendo, Sony, Huawei, and Apple, also predicts that the price of memory chips will rebound in 2020, and market demand will also recover steadily.

In addition to the price cycle, a new generation of technology is also coming.

Looking back at history, DDR was introduced in 2000, DDR2 in 2003, DDR3 in 2007, and DDR4 in 2014. According to the plan, DDR5 will gradually enter the consumer market starting in 2020, first in mobile devices and then in PCs.

In addition, the continued development of 5G and cloud is also a driving force behind the recovery of the storage market.

The advancement of 5G networks will also promote the application and popularization of LPDDR5, and high-speed networks require high-speed storage performance to support it. Christopher Moore, vice president of marketing for Micron’s Mobile Products Division, said that the deployment of 5G networks will greatly promote the application and popularization of LPDDR5.

In addition, the server side, cloud storage, automotive and other fields will gradually adopt the DDR5 specification to meet the increasing performance requirements. By around 2022, DDR5/LPDDR5 is expected to surpass DDR4 and become the mainstream of the market.

Changxin Storage’s planning map shows that the next generation of the company will launch the second-generation 10nm (17nm) technology, and DDR5 is also in the next phase of planning.

In short, this year is the year when the storage market begins to pick up. For Chinese storage, Changxin’s DDR4 is a node, marking that China’s DRAM has caught up with the mainstream level in the application market. However, the technical gap is still visible to the naked eye.

In the next few years, as the PC market also begins to transition to DDR5. In the future, domestic mobile phones may be equipped with our domestic memory, which is not a small cost for further localization. It is believed that in the future, my country’s technology enterprises will continue to improve and achieve greater success.

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