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Ramtron cuts foundry ties with Fujitsu

Posted: 11 May 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:foundry? ferroelectric RAM? wafer?

Amid loss, ferroelectric RAM maker Ramtron International Corp. is dumping one of its foundry partnersFujitsu Ltd.

Over the next two years, the company will transition the manufacturing of products that are currently being built at Fujitsu to its other foundry partners Texas Instruments Inc. and IBM Corp.

Fujitsu is struggling within its own chip operations. The Japan company recently signed a foundry deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. And recently, Ramtron signed a foundry deal with IBM, perhaps signaling that the memory firm would dump Fujitsu.

Fujitsu has been making 4Kbit to 1Mbit ferroelectric RAMs on a foundry basis for Ramtron. This represents most of Ramtron's production in terms of units.

TI is making 1-, 2- and 4Mbit ferroelectric RAMs on a foundry basis for Ramtron. TI's ferroelectric RAM process is based on a 130nm technology. Ramtron expects to generate first production wafers during 2010 on the IBM's 0.18?m wafer manufacturing process.

Ramtron also reported revenue of $10.5 million for Q1 09, compared with $14.3 million reported for the same quarter of 2008. First quarter net loss was $6.4 million, or minus $0.24 per share, compared with net income of $565,000, or $0.02 per share, for the same quarter a year earlier.

The Q1 09 results include a restructuring expense of $459,000, and non-cash impairment charge of $5.4 million related to restructuring and cost saving measures announced in March of this year.

As reported, non-volatile ferroelectric RAM vendor Ramtron cut its workforce by 17 percent and reduced salaries for all employees by 5 to 12 percent as part of a series of cost reduction actions.

"Inventory reductions within our sales channels made for an increasingly challenging first quarter," said Bill Staunton, Ramtron's CEO, in a statement. "Compared with last year, reduced order rates for our lower-end serial memories overshadowed increases in our integrated, custom, and high density FRAM products. By target market, order declines were sharp in automotive and office equipment while other printer related sales grew and shipments into metering applications showed areas of strength."

Meanwhile, negotiations are ongoing between Ramtron, its insurance carrier and one customer regarding the previously announced request for payment for losses resulting from in-field failures of one of Ramtron's semiconductor memory products. These parties have recently concluded a non-binding two-day mediation without reaching an agreement.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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