After the U.S. Department of Commerce banned U.S. exports to Chinese Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company (also known as Fujian or JHICC), essentially destroying this maker of memory, it was a matter of time before the Chinese government established a new DRAM maker as a part of its ‘Made in China 2025’ project. On Sunday Tsinghua Unigroup announced its formation of DRAM business group that will develop and build computer memory.

Ziguang Group, the new entity of Tsinghua Unigroup, will be headed by chairman Diao Shijing, former director of the Electronic Information Department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, as the group's chairman, as well as Charles Kao as CEO. The latter is a legend of the Taiwanese DRAM industry as the he used to be the chairman of Inotera Memories as well as the president of Nanya. Besides, Mr. Kao is the chairman of Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC), a maker of 3D NAND from China.

Under the ‘Made in China 2025’ program, local governments are constructing 300-mm semiconductor fabs in various parts in China, so Tsinghua Unigroup’s DRAM business unit will have access to production capacities. This is why the company lacks DRAM process technologies and this is why it had to hire Charles Kao, which has plenty of connections in the computer memory world, which might help to lure talented engineers from around the world. Meanwhile, Taiwanese DRAM makers are primarily known for ‘technology for capacity’ deals with companies like Elpida, Infineon, or Micron, but not for their own fabrication processes.

Ziguang will be the fourth Chinese DRAM maker after Xi'an UniIC Semiconductors (which inherited its original DRAM IP from Infineon and Qimonda yet currently develops its own technologies and chips), Fujian Jinhua (aka JHICC, which is accused by the U.S. Government and Micron of stealing the latter’s IP), as well as Innotron Memory (which says it relies on in-house developed technologies).

Tsinghua Unigroup, a joint venture between Tsinghua Holdings and Beijing Jiankun Investment Group (which is controlled by Zhao Weiguo, the chairman of Tsinghua Unigroup), attempted to buy Micron for $23 billion in 2015, but the deal was never made. After that, Tsinghua Holdings acquired Xi’an UniIC Semiconductor from Inspur. Furthermore, Tsinghua Unigroup controls Unigroup Guoxin Microelectronics, a developer and distributor of chips.

To sum up, both Tsinghua Unigroup as well as Tsinghua Holdings are not newcomers in the DRAM market. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen when either of the companies come up with viable technologies to make computer memory as well as competitive DRAM chips.

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Sources: Tsinghua Unigroup, TrendForce

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  • close - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    "it remains to be seen when either of the companies come up with viable technologies to make computer memory as well as competitive DRAM chips"

    Sure, and on the off chance they do they will suddenly end up on the "national security threat" list, "backdoors built in the memory" and all that. Isn't that the MAGA strategy? If you can't beat them, choke them?
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    Pretty much. The Chinese are also paying the US 25% tariffs, according to our Dear Leader. :-/
  • eek2121 - Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - link

    Trump won't be in office much longer. Then it won't matter. There are far fewer idiots willing to vote for him this time. Even folks in rural areas who traditionally would have voted for him were hurt by his policies and many have stated that would not vote for him again. Even if he somehow survives re-election, he'll be facing impeachment.
  • Gondalf - Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - link

    Tell me the name of a Democratic competitor that could dethronize Trump. For now there isn't one.
    Deal with a 8 years nightmare.
  • cpugod - Wednesday, July 3, 2019 - link

    Underestimate the stupidity of America at one's own peril. It may be 35-40%, but they're an amassed hive of idiots and thus making them the greatest threat to America... but on topic better/faster/cheaper RAM will be good... and I guess the Dept. of Commerce is crushing the Chinese DRAM makers so those coal miners can develop the next generation RAM systems and sub-systems?
  • Yojimbo - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    China has a reasonably simple and brilliant strategy to game the global markets and take advantage of the short-sighted nature of Western democracies and corporate structure. The governments and companies should have put a stop to it long ago but there was too much greed and complacency, as well as incentive to look the other way because of weaknesses in the way Western democracies and corporations work.

    What China does is to use their vast market potential as a carrot. But they don't allow open access to the market, they make foreign companies sign minority interest joint ventures with Chinese firms. The Chinese firms gain expertise, contacts, etc, which is fine, though the required joint venture thing is something other countries should not put up with. Then the Chinese acquire the IP and various secrets of the foreign firm through one way or another. It could be purchase, but it is often a forced transfer to have access to the market, and there seems to be a lot of looking the other way when things get stolen, or using the court system to levy charges against a company which can get resolved one way or another. Then that IP and expertise shows up in other Chinese firms with products that compete with the foreign firm. If the sector is considered a strategic area then the government will heavily subsidize the Chinese firms in the industry and cut off access to the Chinese market for foreign firms. Then the Chinese firms have a larger total addressable market and they also have the financial backing of the Chinese state. Once foreign competition is driven out they can dial back the subsidies and apply the resources to the next strategic sector.

    Long term the Chinese want to change their education system and focus more on innovation. But as of now, they mostly come up with the viable technologies so quickly by using the above strategies, i.e., copying and stealing them. And they will get away with it as long as they are allowed.
  • zzark - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    i think India also require partnership for local market access, no one seems to have issue with that
  • Skeptical123 - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    Almost any economist has issues with protectionist policies like these and the Indian government is not actively trying to acquire or steal as much IP as possible
  • zzark - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    yeah but India also not investing in other countries, china is funding many foreign universities and companies, my university received several millions from Chinese firm for research and development, which gives them right for any patent developed using those funds, India forced local funding from foreign firm and force design and development with local partners, this exactly what china does
  • R0H1T - Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - link

    >Chinese firm for research and development, which gives them right for any patent developed using those funds

    No, not always. It largely depends one how the contract is structured. While the funding should give them access to the patent, it doesn't necessarily mean they can use the (entire) IP.

    >India forced local funding from foreign firm and force design and development with local partners

    You seem to be making things up as you go, especially as you don't even know half of it! What's forced "local funding" & force design & development?

    >this exactly what china does

    Not even close!

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