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Back-end memory testing could tighten in '07, says analyst

Posted: 03 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:memory devices? memory device? memory IC? memory chip? DRAM?

The back-end memory testing industry may become tighter in the second half of 2007, as memory packaging and testing companies struggle to keep pace with a changing and rapidly growing market, according to a report from DRAMeXchange.

DRAM bit growth is expected to reach 65 percent in 2007, according to the research firm. But amid the anticipated DRAM output growth and increased utilization of 70nm manufacturing process in 2007, DRAMeXchange believes the back-end memory testing industry may be challenged by production changes from Power ASE Technology and the possibility of Hynix outsourcing its DDR2 testing operations, and other factors, the firm said.

DRAM manufacturers have enjoyed a strong 2006. As a result, many have cut back on the production of NAND flash, which has been challenged by plunging prices, DRAMeXchange said. While packaging capacity is unlikely to experience any shortfall, the prohibitive cost and rapid depreciation of automated test equipment (ATE) may create a capacity crunch in this area, according to the firm.

While, memory testing capacity is not expected to experience shortfall in the near term, it may in the second half of 2007 as more DRAM plants come online, DRAMeXchange said.

In order to ensure an adequate backend testing supply, DRAM makers will attempt to set up new packaging and testing facilities, DRAMeXchange said. Power ASE Technology, for example, was established by a strategic partnership between PowerChip Semiconductor Corp., and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc., a Taiwanese test and assembly house.

It remains to be seen whether or not Hynix Semiconductor Inc. will outsource its DDR2 testing, or chose to construct additional backend testing facilities, according to DRAMeXchange. Its in-house operations are currently handled by its Wuxi plant in China, the firm said, noting that with DDR2 production expected to grow rapidly next year, Hynix may have to make other arrangements.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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