SK hynix has embarked on strengthening its research and development (R&D) capabilities to enhance its high-performance NAND competitiveness by successively recruiting NAND flash memory experts from Intel with decades of experience.

According to industry sources on Dec. 28, SK hynix America this month recruited Richard Pasto, a senior lead engineer from Intel. A semiconductor expert with 28 years of experience, including stints at AMD, Spansion, and Cypress Semiconductor, Pasto is a Cornell University Ph.D. graduate and has contributed to dozens of patent applications in the semiconductor field, including 3D NAND.

In June, Rezaul Haque, a memory design expert with 30 years in the semiconductor industry, including 25 years at Intel, joined SK hynix as a team leader in R&D. In November, Erika Shiple, who worked for 13 years at Intel in NAND and other areas, also moved to SK hynix as a team leader.

All these individuals are now key department heads at SK hynix NAND Development America (SK HNA), newly established in San Jose, California, the heart of Silicon Valley, where they are responsible for R&D tasks. This organization, consisting of about 30 researchers, focuses on developing high-performance NAND design and related technologies. It’s a specialized organization with minimal executive-level staff focusing on pure research and development to enhance technological competitiveness.

As the popularity of generative AI grows, SK hynix is paying attention to on-device AI as a new memory demand source. On-device AI, which embeds generative AI in devices instead of servers, requires NAND-based storage devices capable of storing large amounts of data due to its server-independent nature.

SK hynix plans to develop its NAND research hub by preempting R&D personnel in the U.S. around SK HNA. The company is also looking forward to synergy with its subsidiary Solidigm, acquired from Intel. With the success of High-Bandwidth Memory sales and significantly narrowing the DRAM gap with Samsung Electronics, SK hynix is now tightening its focus on leading in the NAND sector.