Global memory market likely to reshuffle with UMC win United Microelectronics Corporation


UMC's comprehensive foundry solutions enable chip designers to leverage the company's sophisticated technology and manufacturing, which include world-class 28nm High-K/Metal Gate technology, 14nm FinFET volume production, specialty process platforms specifically developed for AI, 5G and IoT applications and the automotive industry's highest-rated AEC-Q100 Grade-0 manufacturing capabilities for the production of ICs found in vehicles.

Then, UMC counterpunched. In January this year, UMC filed a lawsuit against Micron in the court of Fuzhou City, China, demanding 270 million yuan (US$40.5 million) in compensation, claiming that Micron infringed upon its DRAM technology patents.

On the news, Micron shares fell by up to 8%, while UMC shares jumped 3.9% in early trading Wednesday in Taipei. It said the USA company's products infringed on three of its patents related to DDR4, SSDs, and graphic card memory.

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"The Fuzhou Court issued this preliminary ruling before allowing Micron an opportunity to present its defense", said Joel Poppen, Micron's general counsel.

Commenting on the decision, co-president of UMC Jason Wang, said: "UMC is pleased with today's decision".

The two chipmakers have been at loggerheads since December when Micron filed a civil lawsuit in the state of California, accusing UMC of secret infringement of intellectual property related to its DRAM chips. "And the stakes are high, as we can see in this case".

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Roughly one quarter of all global memory chip demand comes from China.

China is the largest importer of memory products, consuming 20 percent of the world's DRAM. In fact, Micron derived half of its fiscal 2017 net sales from the country. Taiwanese rival United Microelectronic Corporation (UMC) released a statement yesterday revealing the news, which saw shares in the American firm fall by as much as 8 percent. The ban applies to its subsidiaries Micron Semiconductor (Xi'an) Co Ltd and Micron Semiconductor (Shanghai) Co Ltd. Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron have been leading this market by supplying memory semiconductors to home appliance, smartphone and server companies.

According to Wang, Micron now supplies SSD modules to Alibaba, China's largest e-retailer; Huawei, the world's third-largest smartphone maker; Tencent Holdings, a Chinese conglomerate providing internet and telecommunications services; and Baidu, China's largest search engine. He believes the antitrust investigation on SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics demonstrated that Chinese authorities intend to "hold Korean semiconductors in check".

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