Hynix Semiconductor and STMicroelectronics plan to start making memory chips on advanced production lines at a US$2 billion chip plant in China next week.
The project, which was inaugurated in November 2004, will be one of the most advanced chip facilities in China, producing dynamic RAM as well as NAND flash memory chips on 300-millimeter silicon wafers. The companies will hold an opening ceremony on Tuesday, Oct. 10, according to an official at Hynix, the South Korean chip maker.
Hynix ST Semiconductor, which is the name of the joint venture, was built in Wuxi City, a few hours from Shanghai. The company is just the second in China to start producing chips on 300-millimeter silicon wafers, from which thousands of chips can be made. The 300-millimeter technology isn’t easy to import into China due to U.S. export restrictions on machinery with the potential to produce items used by China’s military, such as advanced chips used in missile guidance systems.
The 300-millimeter chip-making technology enables companies to produce far more chips on a single wafer than on older, 200-millimeter wafers, thereby greatly increasing monthly output at semiconductor factories. But the size advantage comes at almost double and sometimes triple the cost of a 200-millimeter chip factory.
The joint venture company is 67 percent owned by Hynix and 33 percent by STMicro. The companies expect the new plant to feed memory chips to the burgeoning contract PC and consumer electronics makers in China.
-Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service (Taipei Bureau)
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