John Hsuan, honorary vice-chairman at UMC, thinks that Elpida’s successful migration to the 40nm process for manufacturing, as well as a strong show with regards to the mobile memory market, means it is well placed to challenge Samsung, considered the overall leader.
This is despite Elpida announcing substantial losses recently thanks to low PC shipments leading to a drop in DRAM demand.
However if Elpida is able to capitalise on the booming mobile memory market, which saw 71 percent growth despite a downturn in the memory segment, then this should provide a boost.
Hsuan believes that only three DRAM producers are likely to be able to successfully come through a tough time in the DRAM market, and Elpida the only one outside of South Korea to do so, with Hynix and Samsung likely to stay safe.
While it is noted that Micron Technology is seen as a competitor, the move to 40nm process tech has enabled Elpida to see off any challenge.
Elpida, which recently took over Powerchip, is thought to be the only manufacturer that is able to rival Samsung in terms of mobile RAM production, with the acquisition of Spansion’s Flash technology further boosting the firm.
However it is considered unlikely that, with Samsung’s financial muscle and technological capability the 40 percent share of the DRAM market the Korean firm holds, second place seems about all that can be hoped for at this point.
According to Hsuan, Taiwan’s DRAM chipmakers could become contract suppliers to the three firms that he believes will emerge on top - as there is a shortage in patented technologies held by Taiwanese companies.