SAN JOSE -- The U.S. subsidiary of Hynix Semiconductor Inc. here today said the Korean IC maker will begin using a new low-cost 0.15-micron process technology, code-named "Blue Chip," to deliver 128- and 256-megabit synchronous DRAMs before the end of 2001.
Hynix today officially unveiled the "Blue Chip" technology during a press conference in Ichon, South Korea, which was held during a ceremony commemorating the second anniversary of the merger of LG Semion and Hyundai Electronics. Hynix was launched in the past year by Hyundai as a new semiconductor company after the merger.
According to Hynix, the "Blue Chip" technology is a result of two years of development that created the new DRAM process with less than one-third the investment normally required for next-generation ICs. The ability to develop and produce new DRAM technology is crucial in today's hostile market conditions, which have created a glut of memories and sharp erosion of average selling prices. Moreover, Hynix is still buried with debt and nearly $5 billion in the red.
"This new technology is a significant breakthrough that will enable us to stay ahead of competition," said Farhad Tabrizi, vice president of worldwide memory marketing at Hynix. "We are currently implementing this technology in our fabs in Ichon and Chungju, Korea, and Eugene, Ore. We expect to be delivering 128-M and 256-M SDRAMs built on our 0.15-micron 'Blue Chip' process technology by the end of this year."
The platform for creating the new "Blue Chip" technology was set with the merger of LG Semicon's 0.18-micron tungsten bit-line process and Hyundai's own high-speed DRAM technology, according to company officials. The merger of those two technologies created a DRAM process that was suitable for volume production using existing step-and-repeat lithography tools instead of more expensive advanced scanners, Hynix said. The company estimated that step-and-scan exposure tools typically cost 50% more than stepper systems.
Hynix claimed it has been able to push existing 248-nm steppers below 0.18-micron critical dimensions while using the tungsten bit-line technology. The Korean company also claimed that the productivity of the "Blue Chip" technology (costs and volume yields from frontend lines) is 1.7 times higher than "legacy" 0.18-micron processes.
Another process shrink to 0.14-micron feature sizes is planned by the middle of 2002, said Hynix.