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Hynix seeks buyers, moves to 21nm

Posted: 14 Oct 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:memory? NAND? DRAM?

Hynix Semiconductor Inc. faces an uncertain future, yet moves ahead in the scaling race.

Reports say that the LG Group is not interested in buying Hynix, even as other sources claim that it may reconsider a plan to buy the memory maker, as creditors seek to unload their shares of the company.

In the meantime, Hynix has begun sampling a 26nm NAND device, with plans to move to a 21nm process in 2011. The company is also making a push in the DRAM race with a 30nm-class product.

But like most chipmakers, Hynix is seeing a lull in the market after a surge in 1H 10. The overall memory business has ''softened a bit,�� said Oh Chul Kwon, president and CEO, Hynix, in an interview with EE Times.

There is a lull in the general economy, according to Kwon. He replaced Kim Jong Kap, who was named as head of Hynix's board, in March.

Elpida, Micron, Samsung, Toshiba and other memory makers are also seeing a slowdown. Last week, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd said that, despite rising sales, its Q3 10 operating profit is likely to fall from Q2's record high due to the lull, according to a report.

Unlike Samsung, Hynix has been in limbo. Amid an upturn in business, Hynix remains in a holding pattern in regards to gaining a new majority shareholder.

Creditors own a controlling 28 percent stake worth around $3 billion in Hynix. A consortium of banks, former creditors and now owners of Hynix sold a 6.7 percent in stake in Hynix for about $814 million in mid-March. This was part of a plan by the group led by Korea Exchange Bank to unload a total of 13 percent of the company this year.

Prospects to unload those shares appear to be dim. Creditors can�t find a suitable buyer. LG recently rejected a plan to buy the shares. Reports have surfaced that LG may re-visit that plan. The new CEO of LG is interested in Hynix, but other LG board members have resisted, sources said.

Despite the problems, Hynix remains aggressive in the market. In August, the company announced that it begun mass producing 64Gb NAND flash using 20nm class technology at its 300mm fab, M11, in its Cheongju site.

Hynix began sampling the device, a 26nm chip, in September. It plans to devise and ship a 21nm NAND device in July 2011.

On the DRAM front, Hynix is shipping 40nm-class devices, and plans to ship 30nm-class products next year. Samsung claims to be shipping a 30nm-class DRAM.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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