UPDATED. 2024-07-19 07:49 (금)
Micro2Nano expects DRAM EDS probe card to get approval from SK Hynix this year
Micro2Nano expects DRAM EDS probe card to get approval from SK Hynix this year
  • JY Han
  • 승인 2023.04.05 17:51
  • 댓글 0
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Korean firm to challenge FormFactor and Micronics Japan
Image: Micro2Nano
Image: Micro2Nano

Probe card maker Micro2Nano is expecting its latest electrical die sort (EDS) probe card for DRAM to get approval from key customer SK Hynix within the year.

Micro2Nano CEO Hwang Kyu-ho told TheElec on Wednesday that the company will be sending the chipmaker its evaluation sample in May.

The card will be used in SK Hynix’s production line with the evaluation result coming out in October, Hwang noted.

The CEO said Micro2Nano had worked with SK Hynix for a long time on the project and expects good results.

Micro2Nano may earn new revenue from the new cars next year at the earliest from the collaboration, Hwang added.

Currently, the global EDS probe card for DRAMs is a duopoly run by US company FormFactor and Micronics Japan.

SK Hynix buys up to 100 billion won worth of the cards from these companies every year.

But the chipmaker had wanted a local supplier of these cards for a long time as well, given the delay in response, price, delivery and after-service issues that comes with a foreign supplier.

Micro2Nano is aiming to account for 10% of SK Hynix’s use of the cards by 2023 and over 20% by 2025.

Gaining a 20% share in the chipmaker’s supply chain will secure the probe card maker around 20 billion won in revenue, the CEO explained.

Micro2Nano is planning to go public and use 60% of the fund secured from its listing on expanding its production capacity for EDS probe cards for DRAM.

Probe cards are attached to automated test equipment to test wafers that have finished fabrication; the wafers are tested for durability and electrical defects.

EDS are used to look for defects; others are used for wafer burn-in tests to see if the wafer activates in different temperatures.

EDS probe cards can be pricey depending on the design; those for NAND can cost up to 150 million won; those for DRAM 250 million won. Probe cards for DRAM are more expensive as they have more pins and the distances between the pins are narrow. Data are also processed in parallel. 

Micro2Nano began supplying wafer burn-in probe cards in 2020 as it is easier to make than EDS probe cards; it is building on its experience to supply EDS probe cards as well.

The company was founded in 2000 and specialized in these probe cards for NAND chips. SK Hynix uses Micro2Nano for 39% of the probe card for NAND chips.

Micro2Nano relies on SK Hynix for 95% of its revenue; last year it recorded 41.4 billion won in revenue and 6.2 billion won in operating income, an increase of 30% and 29.1% from 2021.

However, its earnings for the short-term are not guaranteed. New demand for probe cards arises when chipmakers upgrade their node (from 176-layer to 238-layer for NAND). Probe cards are usually used again by replacing the pins. But SK Hynix is currently reducing its spending and delaying moving its node from the global downturn in the chip market. Probe cards have a 3 months delivery deadline so chipmakers usually order them when they need them. US probe card maker FormFactor is seeing its earnings decline since the fourth quarter last year and it doesn’t know when demand will recover. 


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