Chip maker Micron to shut DRAM design operations in Shanghai, transfer key engineers to US, India

  • The US chip firm, which employs about 43,000 individuals globally, didn’t present a motive for the choice, however a supply mentioned it was resulting from ‘historic lack of technical know-how’
  • A few of the 150 members of the agency’s Shanghai DRAM staff can apply to be relocated, with profitable candidates given immigration packages to the US or India

US reminiscence chip large Micron Know-how has confirmed it can shut its DRAM design operations in Shanghai by the top of this 12 months, with trade sources saying a number of the 150 Chinese language engineers will probably be requested to relocate to the US or India.

Micron mentioned in a press release on Wednesday that its DRAM engineering staff “will vacate from the Shanghai Design Centre”, with the method anticipated to be accomplished earlier than December 2022, including that the remainder of its operations within the metropolis wouldn’t be affected.

The corporate, which employs about 43,000 individuals globally, didn’t present a motive for the choice. DRAMs, brief for dynamic random-access recollections, are a standard kind of semiconductor utilized in computer systems.

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The transfer is a precautionary measure to stop expertise loss and expertise leaks to opponents in China, in response to staff and trade analysts.

A present Micron worker, who requested anonymity, mentioned the plan was introduced internally final month and that the choice was made due to a “historic lack of technical know-how as some former staff and administration have been poached by huge tech companies in China”.

The rising expertise rivalry between China and the US additionally performed a task, the worker mentioned.

The worker mentioned a number of the 150 members of the Shanghai DRAM staff can apply to be relocated, and profitable candidates could be granted immigration packages to the US or India.

Zheng Hua, the previous senior director of Micron’s Shanghai Engineering Centre, introduced on LinkedIn final week that he would relocate to Micron’s Atlanta operation as website chief. Micron has analysis and improvement centres within the US, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, Italy, China, India and Germany.

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Wang Lifu, a Shanghai-based analyst at semiconductor consultancy ICWise, mentioned the closure of the design centre in Shanghai “could possibly be a safety measure” towards expertise leaks.

“Many US reminiscence chip design firms opted to place their design groups exterior China within the first place, and Micron is transferring in that path,” Wang mentioned.

Chen Rang, a long-time investor and entrepreneur in China’s semiconductor trade, mentioned Micron’s Shanghai staff has misplaced greater than a 3rd of its 300 members. With different chip design firms in China poaching its staff with excessive salaries and inventory choices, Micron’s transfer to relocate was “unsurprising”, he added.

It’s more and more frequent for chip firms to turn out to be aggressive in recruitment amid a surge in demand for prime expertise, in response to Chen.

Micron has beforehand cited its concern over the government-backed competitors in China. In its 2021 annual monetary report, the corporate warned buyers that Beijing’s help for home DRAM makers may limit Micron’s progress available in the market.

“We face the specter of growing competitors because of important funding within the semiconductor trade by the Chinese language authorities and numerous state-owned or affiliated entities which can be supposed to advance China’s acknowledged nationwide coverage aims,” Micron mentioned within the report launched final September.

Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC), a Micron rival in China, manufactured this NAND flash memory chip. Photo: Handout

© Supplied by South China Morning Put up
Yangtze Reminiscence Applied sciences Co. (YMTC), a Micron rival in China, manufactured this NAND flash reminiscence chip. Photograph: Handout

“As well as, the Chinese language authorities might limit us from taking part within the China market or might forestall us from competing successfully with Chinese language firms,” it mentioned.

Together with different international DRAM suppliers, Micron was the goal of a 2018 investigation by regulators into potential collusion and different anticompetitive conduct, and it has additionally been sued in Chinese language courts for alleged patent infringement.

In 2018, the US Justice Division filed an indictment towards Chinese language DRAM start-up Fujian Jinhua Built-in Circuit, alleging it stole commerce secrets and techniques from Micron. The Chinese language firm was subsequently blacklisted by Washington, and went bankrupt as a result of it may not purchase chip making instruments from international suppliers.

Micron presently manufactures DRAMs in Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, the US, Malaysia, and China. It’s unsure whether or not the closure of the Shanghai design operation would have an effect on its DRAM meeting and take a look at facility within the northern metropolis of Xi’an.

After a brief lockdown in December resulting from a Covid-19 outbreak in Xi’an, capital of northwestern Shaanxi province, the power reached full capability once more as of final Friday, the corporate mentioned in a press release.

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