ChangXin Memory (CXMT), is now officially the only Chinese DRAM maker to be in production on the market. The company has completed its Fab 1 and R&D facility located in Hefei, the capital of Anhui province, as reported by EE Times (opens in new tab) this week.
The fab is producing 20,000 wafers per month and will be able to produce 40,000 wafers per month by the second quarter of 2020. Other Chinese DRAM makers have either shut down or are years away from production.
The CXMT facility started using a 19nm process (opens in new tab) earlier this fall to manufacture LPDDR4, DDR4 8Gbit DRAM products. CXMT built an infrastructure around its facility to house 3,000 employees, along with their families.
What About CXMT’s Local DRAM Competitors?
Not long ago, several Chinese companies attempted to design and build their own DRAM chips to compete against the likes of Samsung and Micron. It became even more imperative for the Chinese government to help create competitive DRAM makers once the trade war with the U.S. started.
Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company (JHICC), another Chinese DRAM company, was basically killed by U.S. sanctions after the U.S. government indicted it (opens in new tab) with stealing trade secrets from Micron. JHICC shared some IP with United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), which the U.S. Department of Justice also accused of corporate espionage against Micron.
The only other Chinese competitor besides CXMT is Tsinghua Unigroup, which is supposed to complete its DRAM fabrication (opens in new tab) facility in 2021. However, TrendForce believes that even if its DRAM products end up being competitive, it could take 3-5 years before Tsinghua can ramp up production to significant volume.
However, if CXMT does become a strong contender in the market, that could be sufficient to satisfy most of the demand in China.
CXMT was founded in 2016 by the Hefei Industrial Investment Fund and GigaDevice and is run by GigaDevice’s former president, Yiming Zhu. The company has been recruiting engineers from Korea and Taiwan to build its fundamental DRAM knowledge, with 70% of the 3,000 employees being technical staff. CXMT also hired Karl Heinz Kuesters, former VP of technology and pre-development at memory company Qimonda.