Chinese company invest $18.9 hundred million in PCM to launch 3D XPoint chips in 2021
As one of the most cutting-edge technologies , semiconductor chips are very hot in China, not only do which fill in media report, but also appear in lots of domestic projects in recent years, covering every field from design to manufacturing and finally packaging. Memory chips develop as a priority of semiconductor projects. After all, nearly 100% of Chinese NAND flash memory and DRAM memory are imported. Some bigger domestic memory chip projects are from YMTC, Changxin in Hefei and JHICC. However, another noteworthy project besides NAND/DRAM, a phase change memory chip project of JSAMSC, has a $18.9 hundred million investment with a first phase investment of $6.26 hundred million. The fab built in Huai’an, Jiangsu will make mass production in Q1 of next year, which is known as producing 100 thousand 12-inch PCM wafers with a $20 hundred million sales every year.
As PCM chips have been sporadically reported earlier, Intel 3D XPoint chips are said to be based on PCM technologies without decryption. The PCM chips introduction given by JSAMSC is as follow:
PCM is a non-volatile memory technology, using special material to storage information by different interphase resistance. Compared with traditional storage technologies, phase change memory, with low power consumption, stable performance, radioresistance and low cost, has a larger capacity, 1000 times faster and 1000 more durability than high-end hard disk. PCM, who is known as the most mature technology in the fourth generation phase change memory, is regarded as a common memory interpretation of 21st century. PCM will not only gradually replace most of existing memories but also greatly expand storage market, especially those markets in infancy stage such as big data, Internet of things and wearable devices, which are promising markets.
The official introduction this company is as follow:
Jiangsu Advanced Memory Semiconductor Corporation (“JSAMSC” for short) sets up in October, 2016, with two corporate shareholders, Jiangsu Advanced Memory Technology Corporation Ltd. (“AMT” for short) and Huai'an Yuanxing Investment Co., Ltd. . The company focus on developing and producing latest PCM memory products. Jiangsu Huai’an PCM production project has a $18.9 hundred million total investment, whose first phase investment is $6.26 hundred million. Huai’an Yuanxing invests $2.3 hundred million with a stake of 44%. AMT invest with its own intellectual property and cash accounting for 56% of stocks, whose intellectual properties fall into its own proprietary technology and patent.
Although JSAMSC whose controlling share holder is AMT has announced their PCM technologies having complete independent intellectual property right. The company is called the third company with storage technologies and its own intellectual property, however their technologies actually come from IBM licensing. According to Huai’an Talent’s report earlier, JSAMSC who has cooperate with IBM since 2009 has 275 patents with authorization of IBM, 92 independent intellectual property rights patents and 1000 non-proprietary technologies which have been shifted to Jiangsu, Huai’an.
As foreign semiconductor accumulating lots of technologies with many years development, it is unquestionably to purchase licenses which saving research time and investment. But aside from this, the worry is the PCM project of AMT has gone though twists and turns, that it held opening ceremony in Ningbo in 2014 while nothing coming with this after 2016. Finally, after its cooperation with Huai’an AMT became Jiangsu Advanced Memory Semiconductor Corporation.
The total investment of JSAMSC PCM chip project is up to $18.9 hundred million, whose first phase investment is $6.26 hundred million. The fab who sealed a top in last year had equipment installed in March of this year and trial production in September. It will start mass production in Q1 of next year, whose scale of production as huge as 100 thousand 12-inch PCM chips every year. It is puzzled that the sales of JSAMSC will be $2 billion annually after the first phase of project beginning production according to its official website while the annual sales will be up to $4.5 billion said by other reports.
Now that the PCM chip project of JSAMSC has been the fact, the key point is whether they can accomplish the goal of this project. Although there are a number of bright points in PCM chip technology, the reason why delaying mass production besides production difficulty of PCM chips is mainly capacity which is too small. Its main capacity is about 512Mb or 1GB, which are two small to replace NAND flash memory with 512Gb and 1TB capacity. It is mainly used in some embedded products where PCM hardly has apparent advantages compared with products such as NOR flash memory.
Table1: JSAMSC’s plan of future products
Type of production
Stand alone phase transformation products with medium and low density(EEPROM, NOR)
Embedded phase transformation products with medium and low density and phase transformation products for special applications(FPGA/PLD, TCAM, MCU)
First phase transformation products with high density(2D Xpoint)
The specifications of JSAMSC PCM chips is so secretive that their skill levels are uncertain. From the road map on their official website, they will launch second phase transformation products with high density(2D XPoint) in 2019 and second phase transformation products such as MLC, 3D XPoint and intelligent storage of neural network in 2021. JSAMSC said they will focus on different architectures including MLC, 3DX Point and Process Macro in order to gradually complete technologies and product functional verification of mass PCM storage below 20nm(128Gb/256Gb). JSAMSC expand into 128Gb/256Gb bulk-storage memory area such as SCM, U disk and SSD with domestic IDM by recognize and accumulation in the early stage of the market as well as its experience in PCM production.