Attempts by Chinese companies such as YMTC to start the production of world-leading memories are not limited only to the 3D NAND segment, as CXMT, the leader in the local market for DRAM production, is trying to focus on the start of production of memory type To prepare HBM , used by foreign-made computer accelerators as part of artificial intelligence systems. At the same time, the company has not even mastered the technology for producing HBM.
According to the information Nikkei Asian ReviewThe Chinese company CXMT has already ordered equipment for the production of HBM storage and has begun delivery. This initiative is due to the fact that the supply of such equipment is not yet controlled by the United States and its allies, and therefore CXMT has the opportunity to acquire it “for future use” in the United States and Japan before the introduction of possible Sanctions. CXMT does not yet have the technology to produce HBM, but would like to acquire the necessary equipment in advance. Since last year, CXMT has been developing vertically integrated DRAM chips with an architecture similar to HBM.
In addition, CXMT was also able to purchase suitable equipment for less advanced DRAM chips from a Chinese supplier in order to set up RAM production that is quite modern by Chinese standards at one of the local companies. As previously mentioned, some US equipment suppliers received export licenses in mid-2023, allowing them to supply CXMT with their products. Among them are the market leaders Applied Materials and Lam Research. The equipment they shipped to China will continue to comply with U.S. export controls in place since October 2022.
Founded in 2006, CXMT announced last year that it had begun producing the country’s first LPDDR5 memory for flagship smartphones. These products have been certified by Xiaomi and Transsion. CXMT’s foreign competitors have been releasing similar memories since 2021. In theory, CXMT is behind Micron or SK hynix in terms of its technological development level, but is ahead of Taiwan’s Nanya Technology. However, at the end of last year, CXMT still occupied less than 1% of the global DRAM market, and the top three, Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron, accounted for 97%.
In the HBM segment, South Korean companies SK hynix and Samsung controlled 92% of the market last year, while laggard Micron Technology was happy with 4-6% but has shown ambitions to increase its share. Manufacturing HBM requires not only equipment capable of processing silicon wafers, but also quite sophisticated technology for packaging the crystals into finished chips. Even if CXMT manages to launch full-fledged production of HBM storage, according to the experts at Counterpoint Research, it will mainly be supplied to the domestic market.