U.S. chip maker Intel Corp. has agreed to invest $100 million (about 12 billion yen) in Elpida Memory Inc., the sole Japanese producer of dynamic random access memory chips, in return for stock that does not confer voting rights, the companies said Tuesday.
Elpida, owned equally by Hitachi Ltd. and NEC Corp., plans to use the investment and other financing to boost production significantly at its DRAM wafer fabrication plant in Hiroshima Prefecture, they said.
Meanwhile, NEC and Hitachi said separately they will each invest an additional 9.5 billion yen in Elpida.
The moves are in line with a plan under which Elpida will raise 80 billion yen in capital to boost production. Details of the plan will be unveiled later this week, company officials said.
The investment by Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, is expected to be made later this year, assuming all closing conditions are satisfied, Elpida and Intel said.
In addition to the proposed investment, Elpida and Intel have signed a multiyear commercial agreement under which they will share road maps to develop new DRAM architecture, they said.
“This proposed investment starts the process of raising the funding we need to increase our capacity to better support our customers’ requirements,” said Elpida President Yukio Sakamoto.
Gidu Shroff, Intel vice president and director in charge of materials, said, “Intel’s investment will help enable Elpida to continue to develop and produce leading-edge DRAM products.”
Elpida has reportedly been seeking investment from Intel and other sources since the fall in order to boost production and catch up with the world’s two leading DRAM manufacturers, Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea and Micron Technology Inc. of the United States.
Samsung and Micron together control nearly 50 percent of the world DRAM market. Elpida currently has the capacity to produce 3,000 large-size silicon wafers a month.
Each of these wafers has a diameter of 300 mm. To be competitive with Samsung and other rivals, the company says it needs to expand its production capability to 15,000 wafers a month.
Elpida, the fifth-largest DRAM producer in the world, currently has 6.4 percent of the world market share.
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