Friday, April 07, 2017
United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) yesterday said its DRAM technology program in collaboration with Chinas Fujian Jin Hua Integrated Circuit Co has not been affected by Micron Technology Incs lawsuits over Chinese rivals poaching its employees.
The company was commissioned by Fujian Jin Hua to develop process technologies to produce DRAM chips. This project, approved by the Investment Commission, is progressing, UMC spokesman Liu Chitung (???) said.
UMC was given the go-ahead in May last year to proceed with the project.
The project is in its initial stages. We are still building the team. No substantial research and development [R&D] results have been produced, Liu said.
UMC has recruited several hundred engineers for the R&D team based at its Tainan fab, Liu said by telephone.
Lius remarks came after the Chinese-language Economic Daily News yesterday reported that UMCs DRAM production line had begun initial production before being suspended because of the ripples emanating from investigations linked to Microns lawsuits against former employees who were hired by Chinese rivals.
Micron cooperated with investigators who last month questioned about 100 former employees of its subsidiaries Inotera Memories Inc and Rexchip Electronics Corp (??), the newspaper said.
Some of the former employees are suspected of theft of trade secrets and aiding Chinese firms, such as Fujian Jin Hua, to develop key DRAM technologies, the paper said.
The US memory chipmakers legal battles are aimed at preventing its trade secrets and technology know-how from being stolen, the newspaper said.
A majority of the people questioned were former Inotera employees who left for Hefei Chang Xin, Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd (????) or Fujian Jin Hua at the end of last year, the newspaper said.
Some of those questioned have been barred from leaving Taiwan, it said.
Former Inotera chairman Charles Kau jumped ship for Tsinghua Unigroup in 2015, while former Inotera vice president David Liu (???) now works for Hefei Chang Xin, according to market researcher TrendForce Corp.
“We are aware that law enforcement in Taiwan is investigating potential misappropriation of information. Micron is cooperating with the authorities, and cannot provide any further information on the ongoing investigation at this point, Micron said in a statement yesterday.
Chinese chipmakers offered double, or even triple wages and other benefits to recruit semiconductor professionals to help them overcome technological barriers and reach the goal of playing a key role in the semiconductor world by 2020, the Economic Daily News said.
Stephen Chen (???), a former vice president of UMC in charge of its DRAM research team, now works for Fujian Jin Hua, while former UMC chief executive Sun Shih-wei accepted a high-ranking position at Tsinghua Unigroup in January.
We cannot comment on former employees individual behavior, Liu sad.
The competition for human resources is becoming fiercer and will reach a critical point this year as numerous new fabs in China are scheduled to start production in the second half of 2018, TrendForce said in a report.
As Chinese semiconductor enterprises, including Yangtze River Storage Technology, Fujian Jin Hua Integrated Circuit, Hefei Chang Xin and Tsinghua Unigroups Nanjing fab, are to produce DRAM and 3D NAND Flash memory chips, the headhunting focus will be on memory specialists, the researcher said.
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