Did SK hynix Beat Samsung to the 8Gb LPDDR4?

SK hynix (top) and Samsung (bottom) 8Gb 20nm-class LPDDR4Every so often something very strange happens that puzzles The Memory Guy.  On December 29 (or Dec. 30 in Seoul) something odd occurred.

I received two e-mails, one from SK hynix at 3:55 PM Pacific Time, and one from Samsung exactly one hour later.  Both were press releases.

The SK hynix release was titled: “SK Hynix Developed the World’s First Next Generation Mobile Memory LPDDR4″.  It announced that the company is sampling its 20nm-class 8Gb LPDDR4 DRAM to customers.

The Samsung release was titled: “Samsung Develops Industry’s First 8Gb LPDDR4 Mobile DRAM.”  This release made no mention of samples.

So SK hynix was first to announce (by precisely one hour) and appears to be the first to sample, but both companies claimed to be first to develop.  Since only three major DRAM companies remain, it’s hard to make an important claim unless you’re number one!

I am guessing that one of the companies knew the others’ plans.  It’s usually very difficult to put out a release at any precise time, but if one company knew what the other planned to do then it could issue a release in a way that would undermine the other company’s release.

Even stranger was that the two releases were structured very similarly to each other.  Both announce the product in one paragraph, both explain the benefits of LPDDR4 in another paragraph, both provide typical applications in yet another paragraph, and both make claims about leadership in LPDDR3 DRAMs.

SK hynix said: “SK Hynix is to continuously maintain its technology leadership in the mobile market by developing the world’s first 8Gb LPDDR4 following the development of the world’s first 8Gb and 6Gb LPDDR3.  The Company plans to start mass production of it from the second half of next year.”

Samsung’s release says: “Samsung is leading mobile DRAM technology development and is the leader in mobile DRAM market share with its 4Gb and 6Gb LPDDR3.  It started offering the thinnest and smallest 3GB LPDDR3 (6Gb) package solutions in November and will provide its new 8Gb LPDDR4 DRAM in 2014.”

Both photos even bear the same date code, 352, representing the 52nd week of 2013.

It certainly appears that one company knew what the other planned to announce, and when its competitor planned to make the announcement, although it isn’t clear which company was privy to the other’s internal plans.  It’s pretty certain, though, that an investigation will result to determine why confidential information leaked to a key competitor.

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