SK Hynix is expanding 72-layer 3D NAND flash chip production in 2018, the Economic Daily News reported recently, adding that the company has set up a new fabrication plant in Cheongju, South Korea, for USD 2.6 billion. Slated for operations in 2019, the new plant will initially produce 3D NAND but will add DRAM production later on. According to Hynix, shifting from the current 48-layer to the 72-layer will help increase its chips' production rate by 30% and reading and writing speeds by 20% or higher, with 15 additional cells stacked. The company is currently dedicated to 48-layer 3D NAND production and is set to focus on the 72-layer production in 2018. Hence, the 3D NAND chips' share is anticipated to increase from 20%-30% in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 40%-50% in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the same source. Other than SK Hynix, other counterparts like Samsung, Toshiba/Western Digital, and Micron/Intel also have aggressive plans for 2018 to boost 3D NAND flash production and therefore the global NAND flash market is expected to be in balance next year.