Qimonda, Elpida agree to DRAM JV

Apr. 25, 2008 – Germany’s Qimonda AG and Japan’s Elpida Memory have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop DRAM chips, targeting 40nm processes by 2010 and subsequently scaling to 30nm.

Under terms of the deal, Qimonda will provide its buried wordline technology, with Elpida offering its advanced stack capacitor technology, to accelerate work on DRAMs with “4F2” cell sizes. The two will jointly develop technology and design rules to enable exchange of products and potential manufacturing joint ventures, and plan to align development activities at their respective sites in Hiroshima and Dresden, including exchange of personnel. They also will explore joint development in areas of through-silicon vias and unspecified “future memories.”

Qimonda president/CEO Kin Wah Loh called the partnership “a tremendous endorsement” of the company’s buried wordline technology, and one that will offer “excellent opportunities for greater economies of scale in R&D and future joint manufacturing activities,” he said in a statement.

Yukio Sakamoto, president/CEO of Elpida, added that despite his company’s R&D efforts, “faster and more efficient development of new process technologies is becoming critically important,” and joining forces with Qimonda “will further accelerate and strengthen our technology leadership.”

The Nikkei daily noted that the deal combines Qimonda’s R&D strengths with Elpida’s know-how of mass production. It also noted that a driver of the partnership (besides rising costs of R&D and building manufacturing sites) is the affect of still-slumped DRAM ASPs — Elpida is expected to post a ¥25B US (US ~$240.9M) loss in its just-closed fiscal year, and Qimonda has posted losses for four quarters.

The paper noted that Elpida will maintain its current agreement with Taiwan’s Powerchip Semiconductor, including a ¥1.6T (~$15.42B) to build four JV DRAM plants.


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