Chinese chipmakers gear up to produce HBM for AI chips — China is a decade behind in HBM tech as US sanctions force action

Two Chinese firms hope to advance HBM production in the country
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The need for high bandwidth memory (HBM) for AI chips is quickly accelerating, and two Chinese chipmakers are making substantial progress toward helping fulfill that need. CXMT has already developed sample HBM chips and Wuhan Xinxin is building a factory to begin its production of the memory modules.

China is trying to reduce its reliance on foreign suppliers, mainly because of tensions with the United States. The U.S. has placed heavy restrictions on exports of advanced chipsets to Chinese firms, making technological advances by those companies difficult.

CXMT has been working with chip packaging and testing company Tongfu Microelectronics, Reuters reported, according to three people briefed on the developments. Two of those people said the sample chips are already being shown to clients.

The chipmaker and other Chinese firms have also reportedly regularly met with semiconductor equipment firms in South Korea and Japan to buy the necessary tools to develop HBM.

In Wuhan City, private firm Wuhan Xinxin was expected to begin construction on its HBM factory in February. This factory could produce 3,000 12-inch HBM wafers each month. Wuhan Xinxin, which is owned by the same parent firm that owns NAND memory specialist YMTC, has expressed interest to regulators in going public. 

Another Chinese firm, one deemed a national security threat by the U.S., is also working towards producing HBM2 chips. Huawei is reportedly partnering with other Chinese firms to begin production of the memory modules in 2026.

HBM is a type of DRAM standard introduced in 2013 and has proven ideal for the massive processing needs of complex artificial intelligence applications. Currently, SK hynix and Samsung dominate the market for HBM, with U.S. firm Micron Electronics representing another major producer of the chips.

The three major players hope to deliver fifth-generation HBM, or HBM3E, to customers in 2024. China, on the other hand, is still focused on HBM2. 

Even though the nation has been lagging behind the rest of the world for ten years, White Oak Capital investment director Nori Chiou told Reuters that the advances CXMT is making are encouraging. "Nonetheless, (CXMT's) collaboration with Tongfu represents a significant opportunity for China to advance its capabilities in both memory and advanced packaging technologies within the HBM market," said Chiou.

Freelance News Writer
    Are we sure China hasn't already, or is presently , in the process of stealing all the research into HBM3E? It feels like we're decades behind protecting all the West's secrets, when will companies realize the jeopardy they put everyone in without properly reigning in loose behaviours?