The Korea Herald


SK hynix becomes sole Dram supplier for Apple's Vision Pro headset

Chipmaker secures edge in burgeoning market for virtual reality headsets

By Jo He-rim

Published : July 11, 2023 - 14:28

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A user working with the Apple Vision Pro headset (Apple) A user working with the Apple Vision Pro headset (Apple)

SK hynix, the world’s second-largest memory chipmaker, has been named the sole chip supplier for Apple’s Vision Pro virtual reality headset, according to industry sources Tuesday.

Even though the chipmaker declined to confirm the deal, sources said the company will provide a dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, customized for the brand-new Apple gear.

“We cannot provide comments related to our clients,” an SK hynix official said.

The special type of DRAM chip is reportedly designed to support the R1 chipset, one of the two advanced processors to be implemented into the Apple headset.

Apple's R1 chipset can quickly process the spatial inputs from the device's sensors and provide users with a lag-free three-dimensional experience. The R1 would enable the device to process all input within 12 milliseconds, which is eight times faster than the blink of an eye. Its M2 processor will be working together with R1, responsible for running the operating system and applications.

To support R1's high-speed processing, SK hynix has developed the custom 1-gigabit DRAM. The new DRAM is known to have increased the number of input and output pins by eightfold to minimize delays. Such chips are also called Low Latency Wide IO. According to experts, the new chip also appears to have been designed using a special packaging method -- Fan-Out Wafer Level Packaging -- to be attached to the R1 chipset as a single unit.

While the chip may not be the highest performing and high-value-added product, it is a new design that would help the headset double the data processing speed, according to industry officials here.

Market watchers say the supply contract reflects SK hynix's effort to diversify the application of its DRAM products. In April, SK hynix announced it has developed the world's first 12-layer High Bandwidth Memory 3 product, taking the lead in the then-still nascent market. The chipmaker's latest technology targets the generative artificial intelligence industry.

Apple first unveiled the Apple Vision Pro at its World Developers Conference 2023 in June. Calling it its first "first spatial computer," Apple said the device can perform the functions of a traditional computer or iPhone in a three-dimensional space.

The mixed reality device is equipped with 12 cameras, five sensors and six microphones, and is able to take in the spatial inputs of the user's surrounding environment and present a new spatial computing experiment, the tech giant said.

Apple is set to roll out the Vision Pro at the price of $3,499 early next year.

The tech giant is also rumored to have started developing the second-generation model of the Vision Pro headset, and also a cheaper, "low-end" model.