Samsung develops 'world's smallest' DRAM chip

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Samsung Electronics says it has developed the world’s smallest DRAM chip, in a move that widens its technical lead over its competitors. The move comes as the South Korean giant is expected to announce record operating profits for 2017.

The 'second-generation' 10nm-class, 8Gbit DRAMs combine improved energy efficiency and data processing performance and are intended for cloud computing centres, mobile devices and high-speed graphic cards, according to Samsung. The company also said that it would be moving most of its existing DRAM production capacity to 10nm-class chips in 2018.

This 'aggressive' production expansion would 'accommodate strong market demand', said Gyoyoung Jin, president of Samsung Electronics' memory business.

The company said that it was not looking to expand chip shipments immediately, but was investing to maintain longer-term market position.

The chips deliver a 30% ‘productivity gain’ over Samsung's 1st-generation devices and the latest 8Gbit DDR4 can transmit data a 3.60Gbit/s per pin, compared to 3.2Gbit/s for the 1x-nm 8Gbit DDR4.

Samsung has applied new technologies to achieve this improvement, including the use of a high-sensitivity cell data sensing system and a progressive 'air spacer' scheme.

A newly devised data sensing system enables a more accurate determination of the data stored in each cell, which leads to a significant increase in the level of circuit integration and manufacturing productivity, while an air spacer has been placed around bit lines to decrease parasitic capacitance. Use of the air spacer enables not only a higher level of scaling, but also rapid cell operation.