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Flash DRAM wallop! Now Hynix fab cranks out NAND

China surges ahead in chip production

Hynix is switching production at a memory plant in China to churn out NAND flash instead of DRAM chips.

Digitimes reports that the plant at Wuxi in China will make the flash switch to help Hynix become more profitable – and perhaps to start catching up with NAND flash market leaders Samsung and Toshiba. Hynix is currently ahead of fourth place Micron in the global flash production rankings.

Samsung has already said it is boosting its flash production in China.

NAND is used in the production of tablets and Ultrabooks: about a third of Ultrabooks have no hard disk drives. DRAM has been having a hard time recently but supply should possibly better match demand with Elpida's bankruptcy.

Hynix is working on 20nm process flash with 10nm in its sights after that. It is also working on STT-RAM, Phase-Change Memory and ReRAM technologies which could succeed NAND when it runs out of steam after the 10nm process is established, if it is established.

Hynix is also thinking about moving up the chain into SOC (System on a chip or System LSI) products, with processor cores, memory, I/O interfaces and perhaps peripheral drives all integrated on one chip. Memory for Hynix isn't forever. There is no timescale for this.

It looks like China is going to become the world's leading flash-production location. That could be a worry, given its rare earth monopoly supply practices. ®

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