SAN JOSE, Calif. — SanDisk Corp. and Qimonda AG have entered into an agreement to form a venture that will develop and manufacture flash-DRAM multichip packaging (MCP) products for the mobile handset market.
The deal with SanDisk to establish an equally-shared joint venture is critical for Qimonda, providing an opening for the DRAM giant to enter the fast-growing MCP-based mobile storage market that "we have not been able to address previously," said Qimonda CEO Kin Wah Loh in an interview.
The MCPs will use SanDisk's NAND flash and controllers and Qimonda's low-power mobile DRAMs. The the new packages will be sold by Qimonda and SanDisk through their existing sales channels to mobile handset manufacturers. Engineering samples are expected to be available for evaluation in the second half of 2007, with volume production planned towards the end of 2007.
Mobile handset vendors such as Nokia and Motorola only use mobile memory devices in multichip packages combined with flash and DRAM, said Loh. That approach has handed the entire MCP-based mobile storage market to two memory vendors—Toshiba and Samsung. "Without a clear flash strategy, it's tough to get into this mobile storage market," said Loh.
SanDisk isn't the only flash memory vendor Qimonda is working with on mobile memory products. Earlier this month, Spansion Inc. and Qimonda announced they have signed a strategic supply agreement to combine Qimonda's low-power DRAM with Spansion's MirrorBit NOR and Ornand devices into MCP memory products destined for mobile devices.
Loh called the relationship with Spansion a supplier-customer deal. By contrast, the collaboration with SanDisk allows SanDisk and Qimonda to "co-develop" products by combining their intellectual property, he said, "so that we can make more cost-effective MCPs much faster."
The jointly owned company will be based in Portugal, where Qimonda already has back-end assembly facilities. The deal is subject to closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.