SEOUL, South Korea ( ChipWire) -- The world's two largest memory chip makers, Hyundai Electronics and Samsung Electronics, will pursue similar strategies of refocusing their foundry businesses to concentrate on segments that are more profitable than the memory market.
Industry sources said Hyundai and Samsung are restructuring their foundry operations to compete more effectively against Taiwan foundries. Both also hope to gain access to new design processes to add value to their product offerings.
Samsung and Hyundai plan to use foundry contracts to combine their memory process technologies with the intellectual property (IP) and design capabilities of system IC and ASIC makers willing to share IP, sources said.
With the exception of high-end CPUs and digital signal processors, most non-memory products can be designed and produced using 0.25-micron process technology.
The companies' new efforts to compete with Taiwan follow a major earthquake there in September that shut down fabs and fouled up delivery schedules.
Hyundai recently completed an expansion plan for its foundry business, wherein it dedicated its 6-inch or smaller wafer facilities to the production of non-memory products. Hyundai acquired much of that capacity through the purchase of LG Semicon earlier this year. As part of its non-memory strategy, Hyundai plans to switch the 6-inch wafer processing lines at its Inchon plant along with another line at Kumi to 0.5-micron process technology.
The company also plans to join the Virtual Component Exchange to gain access to IP needed for its new foundry business. Most of what it hopes to acquire through design exchange will be used to develop system-on-chip foundry capabilities.
Meanwhile, Samsung plans to advance its foundry business using the design expertise it has accumulated during the development of key components for its code-division multiple access (CDMA) mobile communications systems. These include the CPU, mobile station modem and baseband analog processor that Samsung developed to replace CDMA components it had licensed and imported from Qualcomm Corp. of San Diego.
Samsung said it will employ three lines at its Kihung plant that will use 0.45- and 0.48-micron process technology for its non-memory foundry initiative. The company is also reviewing whether to use 6-inch wafers.
-- Exclusive to EE Times by Chom Dan Inc., in Seoul.