8.Infineon's partnership soap opera in semiconductors
Over the last several years Infineon Technologies AG has developed a partnership strategy, which has seen the company developing technologies with partners and then sharing the fruits of those collaborations with eager young manufacturing partners.
But when you have as many partners as Infineon, it is sometimes hard to remember which partners are in favor, and which are out of favor, rather like an episode of your favorite soap opera.
Infineon has worked with IBM Microelectronics, Toshiba, United Microelectronics Corp. among others on the technology side and with UMC and Mosel Vitelic on the manufacturing side. Of course, Infineon's attraction to the Southeast Asian companies is its leading edge process technology and its knowledge of how to make circuits on 300-mm wafers, for which it has been the industry pioneer.
This year Infineon decided to expand its efforts in "partnered
manufacturing", but not always with happy results.
In March of 2002 all was going well. Infineon announced two separate memory foundry agreements with Taiwan's Winbond Electronics Corp. and Mosel Vitelic Inc., both in Hsinchu, to increase its DRAM production capacity at a time when the German chip maker believed the DRAM market was beginning to recover from a prolonged downturn see March 11 story.
A few weeks later, Taiwan's Nanya Technology Corp. said it was talking to Infineon about a potential collaboration to construct two 300-mm wafer fabs to produce DRAMs in Taiwan.
But as with most soap opera's a special blockbuster episode was coming up. By October 2002 Infineon's six-year marriage with Taiwan's Mosel Vitelic was at the separation stage with arguments raging over the legitimacy of the offspring, ProMOS Technologies Inc. The cracks appeared here (see story October 4).
But a handsome swain like Infineon is never without partners and in December the German chip making giant was seen walking out hand-in-hand with young Chinese beauty Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. of Shanghai, agreeing on a capacity-for-technology deal (see December 9 story).
Cue theme music, roll credits, fade to black, and wonder what next year's episode of "Never stop thinking" will bring.
(Return to 2002 Top 10 list or go to No. 9).