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SK hynix’s Revolutionary Technology Center Presents Its Blueprint for Future Semiconductor Research

As a veteran in the semiconductor industry whose career has expanded in three different continents over decades, Myung-hee Na, vice president of Revolutionary Technology Center (RTC) at SK hynix, considers advanced technologies as the most important driving force of research.  But there are other pillars she believes are equally important for next-generation research: open dialogue and active collaboration. 

This is especially true in the era of hyperscale AI1 and machine learning where there is an explosive growth of data while innovative technology looks to continue advancing. 

It is necessary to go beyond the development of memory technology to lead in the next-generation semiconductor market. The RTC from SK hynix’s Future Technology Research Institute is an advanced research organization that was launched in 2021 to present a new paradigm in the semiconductor industry of tomorrow.  

1Hyperscale AI: The next generation of AI that can learn from large amounts of data and make comprehensive inferences like humans. 

As the leader of the organization, Na was certain about her blueprint for RTC from the beginning. Through an interview with the seasoned semiconductor technologist, the article provides a look into how SK hynix will use the center for the future of semiconductor research. 

Establishing an Open Research Platform to Systemize the Future of Semiconductor Research 

Everyone talks about the importance of researching future technologies to keep up with the rapidly changing landscape of the semiconductor industry.  

It is never easy to predict the future. Na likens RTC’s research on future technologies to “puzzle making” using many similar-looking pieces meant to create one big picture in the end.  

“Just as the final picture is the purpose of putting together a puzzle, RTC serves to present this final picture,” Na said. “It emphasizes accuracy and the success rate so that one can see farther and get to the end goal faster. 

“Memory research alone cannot drive the semiconductor revolution. We need to come up with research that explores new computing technologies such as combining memory with computing functions. RTC is a research organization that possesses this vision as it prepares for the future.” 

RTC’s research delves into three main directions with futuristic goals.  

The first goal is to ensure the continuity of SK hynix’s core businesses in DRAM and NAND memory. Consequently, the center conducts research on next-generation memories that can overcome the limits of scaling and go beyond technology inflection points.  

The second is to secure new-type memories that will create new values in technologies of the next generation.  

Lastly, there is groundwork research to secure semiconductor technologies that will support the environment for next-generation computing.  

In addition to the direction of the research, Na talked about her specific vision of having an open research platform (ORP) that leads innovations in open research. The conceptualization of this platform is because of her experience at IBM and the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC). 

“Over the next decade, the semiconductor market will become more dynamic than ever,” Na said. “To be prepared, we need to start taking initiatives beginning with changing the way we work. Especially in the research area, an environment that encourages open discussions is crucial, and ORP is an effective model to establish such an ecosystem.”  

Na emphasized future technology development requires organic brainstorming from the ecosystem level including collaborative research and decision-making not focusing on one body or organization.  

In addition, joint research that leverages the strengths of each participant enhances efficiency and likely advantageous for commercialization. 

“The growth of future semiconductor technologies not only depends on business partnerships that are product-focused but also needs to be developed by forming relationships based on research,” Na said. “We need to continue trying new things and keep our eyes open for any opportunities that may lead to new collaborations. Therefore, through ORP, RTC is actively conducting joint research with various companies, academic bodies, and research institutions in South Korea and abroad.” 

Research Collaborations That Break Limits in Time, Location, and Geopolitics 

The official RTC website (, launched in 2022, is one of ORP’s main channels. The site serves as a hub for communicating RTC’s research areas and status updates to domestic and international audiences. The site also shares the latest research achievements of the center. 

“The website is constantly updated with the latest R&D news and insights in addition to showing major research achievements in the form of research papers and conference presentations,” Na said. “As a matter of fact, many organizations and students overseas have increasingly shown interest in SK hynix through this website.”  

So, what is Na’s goal for ORP?  

“It is to build a Global R&D242 that acts as a collaborative research organization transcending boundaries in time, location, and geopolitics,” she said.  

While still in its beginning stages, RTC is ultimately on a journey to become a Global R&D24.  

2Global R&D24: A collaborative structure that integrates a database of resources for research collaboration and enables networking among global experts while promoting sustainable research.  

“As SK hynix has already been recognized for its research at home, it is now time for the company to go global,” Na said. “We will only be able to have a collaborative structure that conducts meaningful research with others when we have established ourselves globally as a company that can also conduct significant research on top of manufacturing.” 

To this end, Na stressed the importance of communication even in the research process.  

The idea is to share SK hynix’s research to grow its influence in the semiconductor R&D field while creating a structure that guarantees a virtuous cycle for all parties.  

Therefore Na and other RTC members are actively engaged in publishing papers at global conferences such as IEDM, IMW, and ISC. In fact, the company’s output of research publications has more than doubled since the creation of the center.  

“If you do nothing, nothing will happen,” Na said. “The same applies for research. People will only take notice when we get the word out first. Consequently, every member of RTC effectively communicates and shares the status of our research.” 

RTC’s One-of-a-Kind Research Culture Ready to Impact Future Semiconductor Market 

“In my experience in the U.S. and Europe, researchers take great pride in their work,” Na said. “This naturally leads to good research results, and that is why RTC is creating a one-of-a-kind research environment that combines the horizontal corporate culture of global companies with SK hynix’s unique work system.” 

Na organized programs such as Patent Day and Innovation Box Festival, which introduces selected ideas in practice, to allow employees to share freely research ideas with each other. The company has also adopted an agile organizational culture to respond to issues that arise quickly.  

“It could be argued that all research is more than likely to fail as it involves looking far into the future,” Na said. “However, failure is a learning experience that should be treated as a stepping stone to reach the next level. Instances of success in addition to the trials and errors that RTC will continue to face will provide the solid foundation for SK hynix to strengthen its share in the future semiconductor market.” 

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