Friday, January 4, 2008

Qimonda and Macronix Join the Flash Memory Fray

On January 3, Qimonda AG and Macronix International announced they had signed an agreement to jointly development a variety of non-volatile memory technologies over a five-year period. Qimonda will contribute its 300mm wafer-based technology and non-volatile development expertise while Macronix will contribute its extensive know-how in flash memory technologies. Both partners will share development costs and contribute engineering resources and know-how. The joint development will be conducted at Qimonda’s 300mm R&D and manufacturing facility in Dresden, Germany.

Our Take

Macronix’s original Taiwan Stock Exchange filing reveals that this agreement is a “Flash Technology License and Joint Development Agreement”. This coupled with Qimonda CEO, Kin Wah Loh’s remarks concerning Qimonda’s intent to resume production of NAND flash memory chips in 2009 implies that both parties intend to participate in the NAND flash memory space.

Macronix has made some notable progress with its charge trap flash technology, BE-SONOS and it is quite possible the joint development will direct its efforts on this technology, among others. Macronix’s plan to develop 45nm BE-SONOS in 2010 does not totally square with Qimonda’s 2009 timeframe. BE-SONOS is unproven and even if both parties were able to introduce product in 2009 or 2010, they would still be one to two process generations behind the current NAND players. On the other hand, if they are successful, they could have a technology which is more scalable than the current floating gate technology.