January 16th 2023

YMTC is gaining ground on 3D NAND chip its rivals with 232-layer chips

According to an ET report of August 4, Yangtze Memory Technology Co., Ltd. (YMTC), a Chinese chip manufacturer, introduced a new memory chip technology on August 3 that will help it catch up to competitors like Micron and SK Hynix. While Washington is contemplating tighter regulations on Chinese semiconductor companies, the company unveiled its fourth-generation 3D NAND chip, the X3-9070, and its first to feature 232 layers of memory cells, according to an article in “Global Times.”

232-layer nand flash chips

Thus, it is comparable to rival Micron. By the end of this year, Micron aims to start mass producing 232-layer semiconductors, the company announced last month. The first 238-layer memory chip, created by SK Hynix, set a new standard for the sector. With the new 232-layer chip, YMTC has made a breakthrough, according to industry analysts, even though it is doubtful that the chip will be produced in large quantities anytime soon. The company’s market share is still in the low single digits, but with the aid of state subsidies, it is actively increasing production capacity and R&D. Although YMTC’s revenue has increased over time, the company still trails the market leader, according to Toby Zhu of Canalys, a worldwide technology market research organization that monitors China’s chip market. A subsidiary of the struggling Chinese state-owned Tsinghua Unigroup, YMTC was once a little-known company. But now it has attracted attention in the chip industry due to rapid advancements in research and development.

The sale of machinery required to create NAND flash memory chips with more than 128 layers to China will be prohibited by the United States. YMTC is among the Chinese companies that are targeted by the restrictive policy, which is still in the preliminary discussion stage. American firms like Applied Materials and Pan-Lin Group produce the machinery used to create NAND flash memory chips with stacks of more than 128 layers. It is will be the first time for the United States to apply export controls to limit China’s manufacturing of memory chips for non-military uses, if the restriction plan is ultimately approved.

According to some experts, the Korean semiconductor industry, particularly Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, may be the plan’s main victims. At the moment, SK Hynix has production facilities in Wuxi, Chongqing and Dalian, while Samsung Electronics has two NAND flash memory chip factories in Xi’an and Suzhou. In addition, SK Hynix has successfully acquired Intel’s Chinese NAND flash memory chip manufacturing operations. The two Korean businesses’ plants in China won’t be able to receive American semiconductor equipment if the U.S. plan is approved.

The 232-layer NAND flash memory chip X3-9070 has been successfully developed by YMTC, which was founded in 2016. The White House noted in a study issued in June of last year that YMTC’s expansion plans represent a “direct danger” to American businesses like Micron Technology and Western Digital.

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