China’s ChangXin Memory Technologies and other DRAM companies in Greater China are expected to see exponential growth in the coming years despite US sanctions against China, a South Korean professor said.
This growth will be substantial enough to threaten the three-way dominance of the DRAM industry by Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron, Hanwang University Professor Park Young-wook said at a conference hosted by TheElec in Seoul.
The current state of CXMT and Nanya resembles that of Samsung back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Park noted in his presentation.
Among the Chinese companies, CXMT will show the fastest growth, backed by China’s backing of its own chip companies, the professor said.
CXMT was founded in 2016 and has since then grown to be China’s largest DRAM manufacturer.
Taiwanese chip maker Nanya was founded in 1995 and was a major player up to the early 2000s but lost out to rivals in the late 2000s when companies were attempting to kill the competition by outspending them.
As of the first quarter, in the DRAM market, Samsung held a market share of 43.2%, while Micron and SK Hynix held 28.2% and 23.9%, respectively, Park said.
Nanya was ranked fourth with a 2.2% market share while CXMT only had 0.1%.
Nanya’s strategy is that of a fast follower, Park claimed, and it has relatively less chance to threaten the major players.
But CXMT is aggressively hiring engineers from Micron and is attempting to expand its footprint in the DRAM sector, the professor said.
Due to tit-for-tat from China against US sanctions, Micron is expected to have very limited sales in China. Using this vacuum, CXMT could expand its DRAM share in the domestic market. CXMT is manufacturing 17-nanometer (nm) DRAM already.
The professor was also critical of Micron’s current strategy to build high-end fabs, so-called mother fabs that develop the most advanced processes, in the US, Japan and Taiwan.
Micron faced trouble ten years ago when it operated high-end fabs in Japan and Taiwan as each fab used different equipment and machines, Park said.
In the next four years, this difficulty in managing different fabs in different countries could negatively impact Micron, he noted.
In contrast, Samsung and SK Hynix operate their high-end fabs only in South Korea and then apply them to fabs abroad.