Capping off a busy week for fab-related news, South Korea authorities this week gave SK Hynix a green light to build a new, 120 trillion won ($106.35 billion) fab complex. The fab cluster will be primarily used to build DRAM for PCs, mobile devices, and servers, using process technologies that rely on extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV). The first fab in the complex will go online in 2025.

The new cluster will house four huge semiconductor fabrication plants, which will be located on a 4.15 million square-meter site, reports The Korea Herald. The four fabs will have a planned capacity of around 800,000 wafer starts per month (WSPM), which will make the site one of the world's biggest semiconductor production hubs. Keeping in mind that we are dealing with EUV fabs, it is not surprising that a huge 200,000-WSPM plant with EUV tools will cost SK Hynix north of $25 billion. The fab cluster will be located near Yongin, South Korea, 50 kilometers south of Seoul, according to Yonhap news agency that cites the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The new fabs will be used to make various types of DRAM using SK Hynix's upcoming production technologies that will use extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. And with a start date still years away, we're likely looking at a fab that will be used to manufacture DDR5, LPDDR5X, and other future types of DRAM.

SK Hynix reportedly plans to start construction of the first fab in the Yongin cluster in the fourth quarter of 2021. Given the expected size of the massive building and the amount of time needed to folly load it with production equipment, SK Hynix expects this first fab to be completed in 2025.

It is necessary to note that just several years ago SK Hynix and Samsung used to build fabs that could produce both DRAM and NAND flash memory – or at least be converted with a minimal amount of effort. This is not the case today as DRAM production now heavily relies on lithography equipment, whereas 3D NAND production uses loads of etching tools, which is why the fabs for different types of memory have to be equipped completely differently.

The fab cluster in Yongin will be SK Hynix's second major DRAM site in South Korea after the company's primary DRAM hub near Icheon that houses its M10, M14, and M16 fabs. The M16 fab was completed in February and will be used for DRAM production using SK Hynix's EUV-based 1a process technology starting the second half of 2021.

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  • Alistair - Friday, April 2, 2021 - link

    Wow. Maybe we'll finally get cheaper ram? I bought 32GB of DDR3 for $100 10 years ago. Still costs more than $100 for DDR4 today... 10 years later...
  • Tomatotech - Friday, April 2, 2021 - link

    Was that server RAM? I remember some types of DDR3 were high-capacity and extremely cheap but only worked with server motherboards not desktop boards.

    It was annoying to see large amounts of used RAM sold off at extremely attractive prices, then realise it wouldn't work with your desktop.
  • wr3zzz - Friday, April 2, 2021 - link

    Doubt it. The DRAM oligopoly has been staying put in capital projects for years anticipating the Chinese supply, like when the Korean/Taiwanese broke the Japanese monopoly. Those big freshly build facilities in China are now all dead in the water because of Trump. Sk Hynix is investing now because of the inevitable windfall that are coming to the de facto trust is now secured well into the foreseeable future.
  • StevoLincolnite - Sunday, April 4, 2021 - link

    Do you research the nonsense you sprout?
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, April 3, 2021 - link

    $100 was worth about $120 ten years ago.
  • eastcoast_pete - Friday, April 2, 2021 - link

    Assuming that number ($ 106 Billion) is correct, I wonder who is lending SK Hynix that amount of money to invest? I don't believe their entire company is currently worth that much.
  • Alistair - Saturday, April 3, 2021 - link

    That is the total spent over a long period of time, and the fab will be financed from DRAM revenue. Market cap isn't a limit to what you can build.
  • shing3232 - Saturday, April 3, 2021 - link

    Thry probably have large government support.
  • eastcoast_pete - Sunday, April 4, 2021 - link

    That is what I am also wondering about. Yes, it's clear that this is investment over several years, but it's still interesting that they announced the numbers officially. Publicly traded companies have limits how outlandish their announcements can be, so SK likely has some letters of intent for financing already. A government guarantee or similar makes banks a lot more willing to lend big bucks.
  • ballsystemlord - Friday, April 2, 2021 - link

    Spelling and grammar errors:

    "Given the expected size of the massive building and the amount of time needed to folly load it with production equipment,..."
    "fully" not "folly":
    "Given the expected size of the massive building and the amount of time needed to fully load it with production equipment,..."

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