According to a story posted by The Register, SK Hynix has admitted that some of its recently shipped DRAM products were defective and said that it is investigating the scale of the issue. According to Yonhap News, the company also denied that it was facing damages worth about $1.7 billion because of faulty memory chips, but said it is actively investigating the issue. And somehow the cops got involved.
On Monday, a rumor emerged that SK Hynix shipped as many as 240,000 wafers with defective memory worth as much as $1.7 billion. Yonhap News reported on the issue Tuesday. SK Hynix admitted that, while it was dealing with some faulty DRAMs, the damages did not impact 240,000 wafers. The company claimed that these rumors are meant to injure its reputation and called the local police to file libel and misinformation charges against its unknown assailant, thus spurring a police investigation into the rumors.
240,000 is a substantial number of wafers and exceeds the monthly capacity (in terms of wafer starts per month) of a single fab. A failure of this scale could possibly involve multiple SK Hynix fabs operating for weeks and producing faulty components, or one fab producing faulty DRAMs for months. Both situations are close to impossible given the comprehensive quality control checks at fabs during the different manufacturing stages.
"We are currently talking to a limited number of customers affected by this to address the issue," a spokesperson for SK Hynix told The Register. "While it is too early to estimate the potential losses, we do not think they would be that significant as the defect is within the range of typical quality issue check."
Nearly a quarter of a million defective DRAM wafers could certainly have a dramatic effect on the market and global memory prices, especially given that we're already in the midst of a supply deficit due to substantial demand for PCs and other applications. But regardless of how significant the issues with SK Hynix's defective memory chips are, DRAM prices typically increase in the second half of the year regardless.
TrendForce reports that DRAM suppliers hold low inventories that typically amount to three or four weeks of stock. In contrast, PC makers keep up to 10 weeks' worth of DRAM inventory on average, which is considered high. As a result, while DRAM prices increased by 18% to 23% in Q2 2021 compared to Q1 2021, they will increase by 3% to 8% in Q3 compared to Q2, analysts believe.