China's Tsinghua Unigroup Abandons Memory Project
🟦 Restructuring of China’s largest semiconductor Tsinghua Unigroup
Chinese semiconductor giant Tsinghua Unigroup, which is undergoing restructuring, has suspended the construction of large-scale memory plants in Chongqing and Chengdu, Sichuan Province in inland China, respectively. The bankrupt Tsinghua Unigroup is being rebuilt through a coalition of JAC Capital, a state-owned enterprise investment fund, and Wise Road Asset Management, an investment fund.
Chongqing was a project of a DRAM manufacturing plant. The plan was to invite Yukio Sakamoto, who was the president of the former Elpida Memory, a major DRAM company, to open a design base in Japan and gather about 100 engineers. However, it failed because there was no prospect of securing engineers and importing state-of-the-art semiconductor manufacturing equipment.
Chengdu was planning to build a NAND flash memory factory. YMTC, a subsidiary of Yangtze River Survival Technology Co., Ltd., had succeeded in mass production in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, and aimed to reproduce it, but it failed.
Through our semiconductor self-sufficiency policy, we aim to domestically produce Chinese memory semiconductors. Therefore, YMTC will be taken over by a government-affiliated investment company, Hubei Provincial Science and Technology Investment Group (Hubei Province Technology Investment Corporation).
Tsinghua Unigroup was established in 1993 by
Tsinghua University Science and Technology Development Corporation. It is a corporate group that acquired semiconductor and high-tech enterprises in China under former real estate tycoon Zhao Weiguo and became the center of the semiconductor industry. Under its umbrella are YMTC (YangtzeMemory Technologies), which owns the only mass-produced 3DNAND memory fab in China, and Unisoc, a major fabless semiconductor company specializing in smartphone SoCs.
🟦 From memory to mobile
The memory field will be removed from the scope of the reconstruction plan, and management resources will be allocated to mobile devices and other applications. A coalition of investment funds and other organizations is considering reviewing the management structure of UNISOC, a subsidiary of the Tsinghua Unigroup, in order to strengthen the mobile telecommunications semiconductors handled by the company. The proposed enhancements include the consolidation of development bases spread across multiple cities and personnel reforms.
UNISOC has a tailwind that its competitor, Huawei’s HiSilicon (Haisi Semiconductor), is restricted from using U.S. technology. UNISOC’s share of mobile communications semiconductors doubled in 2021, and sales in FY2/21 also increased by 12% year on year. However, since most of the mobile-related revenue is for the current standard “78G” and less for the high-speed communication standard “4G”, the company will strengthen the 5G field in the future.
JAC Capital, which is leading the restructuring plan, and Wise Road Capital have been investing in China’s semiconductor technology. It acquired Nexperia, the manufacturing arm of Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors, in 5 and acquired four plants in China from ASE, the world’s largest OSAT company, at the end of 2016.
In order to concentrate management resources on mobile devices, China’s Tsinghua Unigroup halts construction of memory factories
In China, SK Hynix has a DRAM plant and Samsung Electronics’ NAND plant. Rather than domestic memory production, it seems that they are focusing on state-of-the-art logic production in their own country.