Three major China firms gearing up to enter DRAM market


Josephine Lien, Shanghai; Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES [Monday 14 November 2016]

Yangtze River Storage Technology (YRST), Fujian Jin Hua Integrated Circuit, and a joint venture set up by GigaDevice Semiconductor and the Hefei city government of China's Anhui province, are all gearing up to compete in the DRAM field and targeting to become China's largest DRAM producer, according to industry observers.

YRST is being supported by China's state-backed tech conglomerate Tsinghua Unigroup. YRST is evaluating the possibility of acquiring an existing 12-inch wafer fab or building a brand new one in Nanjing that will be dedicated to producing DRAM and NAND flash chips, the sources indicated.

YRST already has a 12-inch memory fab in Wuhan run by subsidiary Wuhan Xinxin Semiconductor Manufacturing (XMC), which is expected to produce China's first homegrown 3D NAND flash devices as early as end-2017, the sources said. YRST would use technology from Cypress (formerly Spansion) to produce 32- and 64-layer 3D NAND chips.

As for technology to make DRAM, YRST is exploring the feasibility of cooperation with three major vendors particularly Micron Technology, the sources noted.

Meanwhile, Fujian Jin Hua Integrated Circuit is constructing a new 12-inch wafer fab, which will be engaged in the manufacture of DRAM products using production technology developed by Taiwan's United Microelectronics (UMC), the sources said. Jin Hua is owned by the Fujian government.

UMC with funding from Jin Hua has assigned a group of engineers to develop 25/30nm process technologies at the Taiwan-based foundry's manufacturing site in Tainan, southern Taiwan, the sources indicated. The technologies, developed in-house by UMC, will be used for the manufacture of DRAM products at Jin Hua's 12-inch fab in Quanzhou, Fujian.

Jin Hua with government support has reportedly poured almost NT$10 billion (US$312.6 million) into UMC's development of DRAM technologies, which is set to complete by the end of 2017 to allow Jin Hua's new 12-inch fab to enter volume production by 2018, the sources noted.

UMC in mid-2016 disclosed the company had signed an agreement for technical cooperation with Jin Hua to develop DRAM-chip production technology. The developed technologies will be jointly owned by both Jin Hua and UMC, UMC said. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The sources also identified another potential China-based DRAM player. A joint venture will be set up between GigaDevice and the Hefei government to enter the design, development and manufacture of DRAM memory, according to the sources.

The three major China-based DRAM players are expected to emerge and compete for the title of China's number-one DRAM producer starting 2018, the sources said.