Business, Hardware

Elpida, Micron & Nanya – Unlikely Merger or Likely ReRAM Joint Development?

A story in Yomiuri Shinbun reports that financially stressed Elpida is in discussions with U.S. based Micron Technology and Taiwan based Nanya Technology. An Elpida spokesperson said that parts of the report were inaccurate but would not elaborate. A spokesperson for Micron also did not immediately respond to a request for comment by BSN*.

Elpida has a debt load reported at $6.26 billion with a note $1.6 billion due in April. Industry analysts are skeptical that Elpida can meet the obligation. Speculation has been rampant over the past week. One was that Japanese Government had requested Toshiba look into investing in Elpida. Toshiba denied any interest in investing in Elpida.

Looking outside Japan, Micron and Nanya have developed memory technology together under a Joint Venture partnership agreement. Elpida has held talks with Nanya and Inotera over the last year though the content of those discussions remain closed [reported by BSN*]. Also bear in mind that Nanya is owned by Formosa Plastics Group, Taiwanese conglomerate controlled by the Wang family, which also owns smartphone maker HTC and VIA Technologies. A link-up between the these groups sounds logical, since a ReRAM alliance would increase competitiveness over competing smartphone and embedded products.

Rumors aside, the memory industry is transitioning through another period of consolidation and this story if confirmed would only provide further proof. Though?
Wild Card Entry
Elpida?s announcement today of the development of a resistive RAM prototype that replaces NAND-Flash and DRAM may hold the key to what the companies are jointly discussing.
A memory that could unify memory content and more than satisfy low power requirements for the mobile electronics industry at a cost per bit less than DRAM or Flash that any CMOS fab can manufacture – would be a very valuable commodity. A triumvirate of three major producers combined in a joint effort would give the entry the necessary credibility and muscle required for wide acceptance in the marketplace.

BSN* Take
Yukio Sakamoto, CEO and President of Elpida, has been structuring this plan for a very long time now. He has taken it through the necessary steps to prototype and acquired Sharp?s thin film abilities necessary for the production process. He has been active in discussions with Taiwan and Boise. Although Elpida may be in financial difficulty we think that the memory market is at a cycle bottom and is about to begin another up cycle swing making investment in the business more attractive.

We feel that Elpida can work their way out of the financial side due to their determination, dedication and persistence in the applying the right technology that the market demands at the right time. The memory market has long been overdue for a breakout product – ReRAM is that product?