Micron boosts HBM3E production, samples enhanced UFS 4.0

Micron has been busy at the opening of MWC, first by announcing stateside on Monday it has begun volume production of its High Bandwidth Memory 3E that will be used in Nvidia’s new AI GPU, the H200 Tensor Core, shipping in second quarter.

The HBM3E news sent Nvidia shares up more than 5% Monday, but the stock has been booming on interest in AI for weeks and has climbed 68% over the past six months.  Shares were trading at 785.95 on Tuesday.

HBM3E is expected to pull 30% less power than rival products, according to Micron. SK Hynix has been the Nvidia supplier for HBM chips, but has already sold out its 2024 inventory. With Micron in the market, Nvidia and other GPU makers such as Intel and AMD, may be able to scale up production of GPUs, according to analysts.

HBM3E provides a pin speed above 9.2 Gbps and 1.2 Tbps of memory bandwidth and 24 GB of capacity.

On Tuesday, Micron announced separately at MWC that it is delivering samples of an enhanced Universal Flash Storage 4.0 mobile product that is built on 232-layer 3D NAND with 1 TB of capacity. It is the world’s most compact UFS at 9 x 13 mm, Micron said.

UFS 4.0 introduced last June had come in at 11x13 mm. With the smaller size in the enhanced product, phone makers will be able to provide UFS for next-gen foldable and ultra-slim Android smartphones, providing room  for larger batteries.

The UFS 4.0 was a 25% improvement in speed over UFS 3.1 and includes one-button refresh to allow smartphone users to defrag and optimize data.

“Power in mobile phones is everything,” said Chris Moore, vice president of marketing for Micron’s mobile business unit, in a briefing with Fierce Electronics.

With UFS 4.0 and the enhanced version, Micron is “really transforming from a commodity [storage] player into a leader,” he said.  

Also, UFS 4.0 enhanced will be well-suited for AI-capable phones, allowing AI applications to load 40% faster.

Anshel Sag, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said the reduction in size is significant. "Every square millimeter matters in a smartphone," he said.

One Button Refresh, High Performance Mode and ZUFS (Zoned UFS)  will help the user experience and improve app launch times. "They also help to improve performance longevity which is important because people are using their phones for longer periods of time," he added.

"As AI applications become more localized and larger, faster storage becomes more crucial to deliver the experience," Sag added.