The China Syndrome
Intel and Micron have a flash chip manufacturing partnership, IMTF, and the two announced they were separating their flash interests in January.
The two are developing 64-layer 3D NAND products and working on 96-layer technology. Their intent is to discontinue their collaboration once 96-layer technology has been developed.
Intel would focus on its flash plant at Dalian in China, which is building 3D NAND products, while Micron built its flash chips in its US foundry.
According to DRAMeXchange and Nikkei Asian review, Intel is talking to China’s Tsinghua Unigroup about supplying it flash wafers from that plant. The UNIC Memory Technology subsidiary of Tsinghua would take 3D NAND wafers from the Dalian plant, and test, package and sell NAND products using them.
Another Tsinghua subsidiary, Yangtze Memory Technologies Company (YMTC), builds 32-layer 3D NAND but hasn’t achieved 64-layer tech yet. Intel’s Dalian plant has, hence the mooted supply agreement. The way could possibly be clear for Intel to supply 96-layer product as well.
Chips from the wafers could go into smart phones and tablets, notebooks, desktops and servers in various form factors.
There might also be the possibility of Intel supplying other product, such as CPUs.
A deal would enable Intel to grow its flash supply sales in China by using Tsinghua’s channels. Intel on its own is number six in the NAND market by revenue, with a 5.5 per cent share, and clearly needs a helping hand to grow. ®