As the DRam market shows definite signs of improvement, Infineon Technologies has signed deals with two chipmakers to increase its manufacturing capacity of the memory chips.
The deals, with Taiwanese companies Winbond and Mosel Vitelic, will increase Infineon's total production of DRam chips by more than 20,000 wafer starts per month, the German company said.
Under the terms of the deal with Winbond, Infineon will license its advanced DRam trench technology to Winbond and, beginning in 2003, gain exclusive access to standard DRam chips manufactured using this technology.
With its agreement with Mosel Vitelic, Infineon is increasing its share in the output of their existing manufacturing joint venture - ProMOS Technologies - from 38 to 48 per cent, effective from 1 March.
"Infineon considers these co-operations as a major step to prepare for the upcoming market recovery," said Dr Ulrich Schumacher, Infineon president and chief executive.
According to industry analysts, the deal will be of most benefit to Winbond, which has been facing a bleak future since its former technology partner Toshiba announced its withdrawal from the DRam market.
Andrew Norwood, senior analyst at Gartner, said: "Winbond had been in difficulties. When Toshiba withdrew from the DRam market, it was in a tight position and had nowhere to go in terms of technology.
"Infineon will save its bacon. What makes the deal even easier for Winbond is that Infineon uses the same technology as Toshiba did."
Predicting a bullish 2002 for DRam following what he described as the "worst year ever", Norwood said: "The industry really tanked last year, with a 60 per cent decline year on year, so from that point things can only really get better.
"Consolidation talks have lifted prices. The standard DRam price in December was $1, now it is $5. There has been a big turnaround and we are predicting growth this year on the upside of 97 per cent.
"The DRam industry is always either booming or bust, nothing in-between."
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