When a major South Korean memory firm invests over $11 billion in a fab, that raises a couple of eyebrows. But when it comes within a major $100+ billion capital expenditure (CapEx) package, it certainly warrants some attention.

Semiconductor business in general and memory business in particular are very cyclical in their nature. Just a year ago almost all chips were in short supply and prices of commodities like memory or display drivers were high, but now that sales of PCs are declining, memory prices are declining too. But several years down the road demand for PCs and other client devices will rise once again, and so will demand for memory. Which is why SK Hynix is already preparing for this with its Fab M15X expansion plan.

SK Hynix’s Fab M15X will be a two-story building occupying 60,000 m2 of land and will be located adjacent to existing Fab M15 in the Cheongju Technopolis industrial complex. The fab will produce 3D NAND (which means more chemical vapor deposition and etching tools in the cleanroom) and/or DRAM (which is more lithography-intensive, so more DUV and EUV equipment in the cleanroom) memory chips, depending on demand by the time it comes online sometimes in 2025. Since at present it is unclear/undecided what the fab will produce, the company cannot disclose planned production capacity of the upcoming manufacturing facility.

At a planned size roughly equal to combined space of SK Hynix’s existing Fab M11 and Fab M12, the company’s Fab M15X expansion looks more like an entirely new fab built adjacent to existing Fab M15 than an expansion project of the existing fab. Yet since the two manufacturing facilities share infrastructure and various facilities, the maker prefers to call it Fab M15X. 

"Looking back on the past 10 years, SK hynix could grow into a global company as it boldly carried out investment during crisis," said Park Jung-ho, vice chairman and co-chief executive of SK Hynix. "As we look to prepare for the next 10 years now, I believe starting the M15X will be a first step to lay foundation for a solid future growth."

Source: SK Hynix

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  • nandnandnand - Thursday, September 8, 2022 - link

    3D DRAM, please.

  • IBM760XL - Thursday, September 8, 2022 - link

    It could be a smart move. It seems like everyone invests a ton while the market is hot, and then there is oversupply, and no one is investing because of that. But demand always winds up higher in the next cycle. If they invest when demand is low and it comes online when demand is high, they'll probably make a nice profit, while everyone else is still scrambling to build more fabs.
  • Threska - Friday, September 9, 2022 - link

    Lot of MBs come with an M.2 slot (sometimes several). All needing memory to fill them. And of course SSDs will still be in demand. Even some HDDs come with a big cache. Throw in all those GPUs with bigger demands and memory is pretty well set.
  • technopredator - Saturday, September 10, 2022 - link

    Yes, but President Biden will subsidize, which I think it's a mistake: the US Gov. should enter as a business partner Venture Capitalist, with $53,000,000,000 Several US Fabs it's a great time for everyone capable, to build their Fabs. as clearly Demand is not met, and there's too much China dependency for them, plus is going to be needed for sure, not only because population is growing exponentially, but because everything is becoming computer-based, and more dependent on use and function, driven by augmented reality and VR; plus Houses and everything in them becoming IoTs, connected to the Internet, hence Internet bandwidth will increase, needing more Routers/Switches Worldwide, and these devices are small computers+ several NICs. So the the BOOM is already here, you need to be unplugged from the Tech News, to not noticed it already, and the BOOM will keep exploding and becoming not only more demanding, but more important, as people, specially younger generations, likes to be connected (Internet) and sharing, giving opinions and voting, so it's a new Cultural Era, impossible without computers.

    This is why we need to secure peace in our lifetimes and get rid of all Nuclear Weapons, exept for planetary defence against Meteorites
  • quorm - Saturday, September 10, 2022 - link

    This is why I read the comments.
  • martinw - Thursday, October 6, 2022 - link

    What sort of process size is used for DRAM these days? How does it compare with TSMC/Samsung in terms of density and feature size? (I know logic and memory densities are different).

    Are there fewer thermal constraints, ie does memory run cooler than logic so you can (in theory) go more dense?

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