STMicroelectronics CEO Pasquale Pistorio this week confirmed that his company is in talks with South Korea's Hynix to form a memory-manufacturing joint venture, and that negotiations could be concluded within six weeks.
Separately, Infineon's $2.2bn JV with Taiwan's Nanya, Inotera, opened its first 300mm wafer fab yesterday.
Pistorio told reporters in Brussels: "I confirm that there are discussions," Reuters reports. When might a deal be announced, he was asked. "I hope soon, say in the next six weeks, two months," he replied.
Hynix admitted in March 2004 that talks between the two companies were underway. the JV is believed to involve the construction of a $1.5bn production facility on mainland China. The plant is likely to punch out flash memory as well as DRAM.
The Chinese plant has benefits for both companies. For a start, it provides access to the emerging domestic market and would potentially attract the 11 per cent rebate on the 17 per cent sales tax the Chinese government currently levies on semiconductor products. Imports do not qualify for the rebate.
Inotera's 300mm plant is located in the Hwa Ya Technology Park, Taiwan. Chips fabbed using Infineon's 110nm process have begun to be produced, with DRAM output ramping to 20,000 wafer starts a month by the end of the year, rising to 50,000 when the plant is operating at full capacity at the end of 2005. Next year, the plant will begin its transition to 90nm.
Infineon and Nanya have worked together since November 2002. They are co-developing 90nm and 70nm process technologies. ®