SAN JOSE, Calif. – Following the acquisition of NOR flash vendor Numonyx BV earlier this year, Micron Technology Inc. has reorganized its memory operations, forming four separate units within the company.
The company has also recruited Tom Eby, a former executive vice president and chief marketing and sales officer at NOR rival Spansion Inc. Micron also appears to have integrated Numonyx, a NOR flash vendor that was founded in 2008 by Intel, STMicroelectronics and Francisco Partners. Numonyx was acquired by Micron earlier this year.
Prior to the new reorganization, Micron’s memory and related efforts fell under Brian Shirley, formerly vice president of Micron's memory group. Now, Micron’s memory efforts fall under four executives. Shirley is now vice president of the DRAM Solutions Group in charge of DRAMs.
Glen Hawk, formerly vice president and general manager of the Embedded Business Group at Numonyx, has been named vice president of Micron’s NAND Solutions Group. Meanwhile, Mario Licciardello, COO of Numonyx, has been named vice president of the new Wireless Solutions Group, which is responsible for wireless NOR and MCP products.
And Eby, a former executive at Spansion, has been named vice president of the Embedded Solutions Group, in charge of embedded NOR and phase-change memory products.
In October, Micron reported lower than expected sales for the quarter ended Sept. 2. At the time, South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. said it would pay $275 million to Micron under the terms of a 10-year patent cross-licensing agreement between the two companies.
NAND is strong at Micron. DRAMs are slumping. And NOR remains cyclical. The reorganization enables Micron to ''focus’’ on the various segments, Hawk told EE Times.
Micron is well positioned in NAND, which is expected to grow from $13 billion in 2009 to $18.7 billion in 2010, according to the firm. Despite a lull in the overall IC market, NAND is ''holding up pretty well,’’ Hawk said. ''Right now, things are looking a little more balanced.’’
Right now, Micron is ramping up its 25-nm MLC NAND flash line. This year, the company is expected to announce a new shrink. And in 2011, it will begin ramping up its new joint venture fab in Singapore. Micron and Intel Corp. have a NAND manufacturing venture, dubbed IM Flash Technologies LLC.
It’s a different picture in DRAM. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in the third quarter became the only top 5 DRAM supplier to achieve revenue growth, solidifying its domination of the market, according to the market research firm iSuppli Corp. in a recent report.
At the opposite end of the performance spectrum was Micron, which posted the worst performance among the top 5 DRAM suppliers. It posted revenue of $1.1 billion, down 21.4 percent from $1.4 billion in the second quarter. While the company maintained the No. 4 market position, its share fell to 10.5 percent, down from 13.3 percent in the second quarter.
“Micron’s market share has shrunk dramatically over the past two quarters, primarily due to production challenges at its Inotera facility,” Howard said in the report, referring to its joint DRAM partner in Taiwan.
“However, Micron will not lose further market share in 2011 and might actually expand its position slightly. Micron’s DRAM wafer production will grow in 2011 due to the significant uptick in utilization anticipated at Inotera. Furthermore, Micron’s margins will benefit from its effort to transition to more advanced manufacturing processes—an effort that is as aggressive as Samsung’s,” he said.
Micron (Boise Idaho) confirmed its support for the phase-change memory product line and R&D inherited when it acquired Numonyx in May 2010. But recently, the company declined to give further details of its technology roadmap or how it plans to scale the technology below the 45-nm node.
Phase-change memory has shown promise as a potential non-volatile replacement for flash memory and DRAM but the technology has been slow to make it out of the laboratory.
As the situation stands PCM is behind the rival technologies in terms of both memory capacity in bits and the cost of manufacturing. This has given rise to speculation that the technology may be a curiosity that ultimately fails to impact the market.
Micron has one phase-change memory product line that customers can buy: the Omneo 128-Mbit device implemented using a 90-nm process technology but Numonyx, and now Micron, have yet to produce a promised follow-on 1-Gbit memory using a 45-nm process technology.