Tsinghua Unigroup: We don't need Hynix chip tech, we have our own

Chinese giant snuffs licensing gossip as 3D NAND glut looms

A woman holding her hands up to say, er, no thanks

Tsinghua Unigroup has denied it is licensing flash IP from SK Hynix as was reported in December, but is developing its own 3D NAND tech.

The Yonhap News Agency and Korea Herald said the Chinese outfit's Tsinghua Unisplendour division was looking at using SK Hynix IP to progress beyond the 64GB, 32-layer 3D NAND chip technology it is preparing at its Yangtze River Memory Storage company.

A statement from Tsinghua Unigroup said: "Recently, some overseas media reported that 'SK Hynix Semiconductor is negotiating and cooperating with Tsinghua Unisplendour on chip flash memory technology licensing' and other news.

"In this regard, we solemnly declare: the content is purely speculative market rumours; there is no factual basis. Ziguang Group did not engage in commercial contact with the company in related fields, as well as carry out technical licensing negotiations and other matters."

Ziguang Group is another name for Tsinghua Unigroup. The company said it is involved in building a state-owned storage base project in Wuhan Future Science and Technology City in Wuhan's East Lake High-tech Zone.

It said it will build 3D NAND flash fab plants with the largest clean area in the world, an R&D headquarters and other supporting buildings. Its core manufacturing plant and equipment investment intensity per square meter will be more than $30,000. The first phase of the project will be completed and put into operation in 2018, and the entire project will be completed in 2020, with a total capacity of 300,000 units/month and an annual output value of over $10bn.

Possible glut incoming?

Separately DRAMeXchange, part of research outfit TrendForce, is forecasting a possible oversupply of NAND chips starting in 2019.

"The production capacity expansion of major NAND Flash manufacturers, e.g. Toshiba, Samsung, Intel, and Yangtze Memory Technologies Corporation (YMTC), will have increasing impacts on the industry, resulting in a possible oversupply in NAND Flash market in 2019."

For example:

  • Toshiba and WDC are expanding Fab 6 capacity at at Yokkaichi, Japan
  • Toshiba's Fab 7 at Kitakami, Iwate, Japan, will produce 96-layer or greater 3D flash from the second half of 2019 onwards
  • YMTC's new site in Wuhan Donghu New Technology Development Zone will go into operation in the second half of 2018 with initial product focusing on 32-layer 3D NAND
  • Intel is engaging in the second-phase expansion of its fab in the Chinese city of Dalian and aims to double the facility's 3D NAND capacity by the end of 2018
  • Samsung will expand its NAND Flash factory in Xi'an, increasing their production of 3D NAND in China
  • SK Hynix is investing a new factory, M15, in Cheongju, which also targets production of 96-layer or greater 3D NAND, and it is expected to go into operation in 2019

Some forecasters expect enterprise 3D NAND demand to be high enough to soak up the supply and avoid a glut and associated price crash. ®

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