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Micron 300mm DRAM Pilot Line, United States of America




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Micron's 300mm pilot line is progressing on schedule at Manassas (Virginia, USA). Micron now has two fabs capable of running 300mm wafers (the other is at Lehi, Utah). The DRAM maker remarks that whether it makes the Manassas facility its first 300mm production fab depends on market conditions.

Micron had planned the new (110nm) pilot line for its Boise (Idaho) development fab but switched it to its new facility in Manassas, acquired from Toshiba in 2002 for about $300 million. Boise doubled its R&D cleanroom space in 2002. Moving the 300mm effort to Manassas allows the Boise facility to continue to focus on developing next generation products, processes and manufacturing materials and technologies.

MICRON EQUIPMENT HANDLES 200mm/300mm WAFERS FOR 300mm TRANSITION

About 50% of 200mm equipment being purchased industry-wide today is 300mm capable. Within the next 12-24 months it is expected that virtually all new equipment industry-wide will be 300mm capable. All Micron's new chip production equipment can now already handle either 200mm or 300mm wafers for flexibility. The company is preparing for a more general transition to 300mm operation when the cost advantages over 200mm "justify the move on a cost per bit basis". It estimates it would only take six to eight months to get into production.

Micron aims to spend $900 million to $1 billion in capital investment in the current fiscal year (to end of August) and from $1 billion to $1.5 billion in the next, depending on market conditions.

DRAM AMONGST HIGHEST VOLUME SEMICONDUCTORS

DRAM is one of the largest single consumption categories in the semiconductor market. According to research firm de Dios & Associates (December 2002), Micron was ranked second in worldwide market share for DRAM megabits produced in 2002. The company primarily makes DRAMs, flash memory and memory modules for computers, workstations, servers, cell phones, wireless devices, digital cameras and gaming systems.

Memory products include Extended Data Out (EDO) DRAM, synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), Double Data Rate (DDR) SDRAM and reduced latency DRAM (RLDRAM™) for applications like PCs, PDAs, MP3 players and servers. Mobile SDRAM and CellularRAM™ memory is targeted at consumer and mobile products. Flash memories include low power Flash, Flash/SRAM combination and Q-Flash™ products targeting networking infrastructure, broadband access and mobile applications. Micron also provides CMOS image sensor solutions to the handset camera, digital still camera and PC video camera markets.

Micron's production is around 80% wafer starts at 0.13 micron with low double digits at 0.11 micron moving to 50% of wafer starts at 0.11 micron by the end of the calendar year. Micron is hence now aggressively migrating to 110 micron processes, which it used in the high-density 512MB SDRAMs it demonstrated at JEDEX 2003. These JEDEC DDR400 devices increase system memory densities in dual channel systems. They followed on from a 4GB DDR DIMM announcement.

MICRON RESTRUCTURING, DISTRIBUTION AND JOINT VENTURES IN 2003

The company has around $1.2 billion in cash and short-term investments. This is despite $116 million recent restructuring and other charges, including shutting down its 200mm wafer fabrication line in Virginia. There are about 16,700 employees worldwide. Micron also recently signed a regional distribution agreement with Arrow Asia Pac, who will distribute Micron's full range of products through its 33 sales offices in 11 countries/territories in the Asia Pacific region.

Micron has wholly owned fabs in Boise, Manassas, Avezzano (Italy), Nishiwaki City (Japan), joint venture interest in fab operations at TECH Semiconductor (Singapore), a wholly owned assembly and test operation in Singapore, and a memory module assembly facility in East Kilbride (Scotland). Micron's manufacturing facility in Lehi, Utah is designed for wafer fabrication as well as assembly and test. Currently, the Lehi facility is operational only for product test. Completion of the Lehi complex is dependent on market conditions.