Memory and Storage

Report: Micron to close DRAM design site in China

27 January 2022

At a time when the supply chain is clamoring for more and more semiconductors due to a crippling chip shortage, it might be odd that a new report indicates that Micron Technology Inc. will close its dynamic random access memory (DRAM) memory design operations in Shanghai, China.

However, according to the South China Morning Post, the move comes as Micron is increasingly concerned about talent loss and technology leaks to competitors in China.

According to sources, Micron has suffered a “historic loss of technical know-how” from the DRAM design center as former employees and management were poached by big tech firms in China.

Micron is making the move as a precautionary measure to prevent any further loss of intellectual property and will ask 150 Chinese engineers to relocate to the U.S. or India.

In 2021, Micron cited concerns over the government-backed competition in China and warned investors that China’s support for domestic DRAM makers could restrict Micron from growing in the future.

The move to close the plant comes as the U.S. and other countries are attempting to clamp down on possible theft of technology. The Trump Administration added both Chinese communications equipment giant Huawei and Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. (SMIC) to the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List.

The move effectively blacklisted Huawei from being used as a provider for networking equipment, specifically 5G. While on the surface, the move was done to protect the emerging 5G network in the U.S. — the next generation wireless connectivity technology that will eventually provide speed boosts of 10 times over 4G LTE — it will also make it extremely difficult for U.S. tech firms to do business with Huawei as well.

For SMIC, the move was to hinder SMIC from developing sub-10 nm fab technologies and access to state-of-the-art semiconductor equipment.

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