South Korean fab equipment manufacturer Jusung Engineering has won orders from SK Hynix for multiple units of atomic layer deposition (ALD) equipment that will be used to manufacture next-generation DRAM, TheElec has learned.
The South Korean memory maker is planning to use the equipment to deposit high-k materials on capacitors on its new DRAM.
SK Hynix is planning to procure around 30 units of the ALD equipment this year, people familiar with the matter said.
Previously, Jusung and its rival Wonik IPS each supplied half of the ALD kits used by SK Hynix.
Jusung was the first supplied to the equipment to SK Hynix, but Wonik IPS joined the supplier list, leading to the fierce competition between the pair, one of the people said.
But SK Hynix has recently changed the high-k material its uses for its newer DRAMs, they said. Wonik’s equipment lacked in performance after these changes and the company failed to make the cut as supplier this year, they added.
As DRAMs are getting smaller, so have the gate width. That has made capacitors become more prone to interference between each other. High-k material are deposited on the capacitor to minimize this interference. A precursor with good characteristics must be used as the high-k material to prevent these interference and current leakages.
Companies like SK Hynix previously used zirconium (Zr), must have recently begun applying hafnium (Hf).
The performance of Wonik’s equipment, and the reliability of the chips made through them, when used in Hf ALD process were lackluster, SK Hynix found in its internal testing last year. This has caused SK Hynix to give all the new orders for ALD equipment to Jusung.
Despite this setback, Wonik is still expected to supply around four units of deposition equipment that will be used to deposit tungsten to SK Hynix this year.
Last year, Jusung Engineering saw sales drop 53.4% year-on-year to 118.5 billion won due to lowered spending of its customers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, as SK Hynix is expected to see sales jump this year, and more South Korean and Chinese display companies are expected to increase their spending, Jusung’s sales and profitability is also expected to increase.
Jusung’s solar cell business is also expected to see results next year, according to South Korean analysts. According to DB Financial Investment, a local securities firm, Jusung’s sales is expected to jump 183% year-on-year to 334.9 billion won this year. DB also expects the company to record 73.3 billion won in operating income.