Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Elpida, Micron reportedly in talks on DRAM partnership

High-level executives from Elpida Memory, Micron Technology and Nanya Technology reportedly have been holding frequent talks as a warm-up to some form of partnership in the future. They are discussing how they can cooperate to compete with Samsung Electronics, the long-time market leader for DRAM memory, according to industry observers.

Their latest talks have touched on the possibility of Inotera Memories, currently the joint venture between Micron and Nanya, being run as an integrated platform under the pair's planned partnership with Elpida, according to the sources. Elpida is also mulling plans to acquire some Inotera shares held by the Formosa Plastics Group (FPG).

FPG, the largest plastics manufacturing conglomerate in Taiwan, is the parent company of Nanya and Inotera. The parent and its affiliate companies have usually thrown full support behind the fundraisers initiated by Nanya and Inotera.

Elpida and Micron were in talks about DRAM technology co-development between late-2008 and early-2009, but no consensus was reached mainly due to capital issues, the sources observed. Cooperation talks were also hard to continue as DRAM prices began to rebound in mid-2009, the sources pointed out.

Elpida uses stack capacitor technology and has unveiled development of a new 25nm process with volume production expected to begin in July. Elpida has a production subsidiary in Taiwan, Rexchip Electronics, and has signed foundry deals with Taiwan-based Powerchip Technology and ProMOS Technologies.

Powerchip and ProMOS have both recently disclosed plans to place a heavy emphasis on contract manufacturing.

Micron has jointly developed stack process technologies for DRAM with Nanya. The pair announced in early 2010 their co-developed DDR3 chip using copper-based 42nm DRAM process technology.

Industry observers believe that if Elpida partners with Micron on technology, some form of consolidation among Taiwan-based DRAM companies is expected to carry out.

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