Wed, Apr 08, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Micron’s Sadler says TMC tie-up would be ‘difficult’

ANOTHER PATH: The executive vice president of Micron’s Taiwan venture Inotera said the company had concerns because it didn’t want to risk leaking technology to Elpida

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Micron Technology Inc said it would find it “difficult” to tie up with Taiwan Memory Co (TMC, 台灣記憶體公司) after the state-led chipmaker agreed to partner with Elpida Memory Inc, a rival to the firm.

“We have some concerns about participating” because Micron doesn’t want to “risk leaking our technology to Elpida,” Mike Sadler, executive vice president of Inotera Memories Inc (華亞科技), Micron’s Taiwan venture, said in a telephone interview on Monday. “It’s going to be very difficult for us to work on a parallel technology path with Elpida.”

TMC last Wednesday named Tokyo-based Elpida as a technology partner and said it also aimed to include Micron in the venture. Micron, the largest US memory chipmaker, is still in talks with the Taiwan government for funding so that it can proceed outside of the Taiwan Memory framework, Sadler said.

“It would be tough for Micron to keep going by themselves because they probably need more money for technology conversion than they’d expected,” said Yukihiko Shimada, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ securities Co in Tokyo.

The NT$30 billion (US$906 million) the Taiwanese government has earmarked for TMC is not enough to upgrade the Taiwan industry’s capacity to the equivalent of Boise, Idaho-based Micron’s own production technology, Sadler said. Micron wants to convert Inotera’s existing 75-nanometer capacity to Micron’s more-advanced 50-nanometer technology, he said, without indicating how much that would cost.

“We’re in the early stage of post-TMC discussions with the economics ministry,” Sadler said, without elaborating on how big an investment or what form of funding the two parties were discussing.

Inotera is a joint venture between Micron and Taoyuan-based Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), Taiwan’s second-largest memory chipmaker.

The TMC’s framework fell short of Micron’s understanding of what the government originally intended for the sector, Sadler said.

“The most significant change is that we believed the government was in favor of sponsoring a consolidation of some of the companies in Taiwan to achieve maximum efficiency,” Sadler said.

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