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Friday, December 23, 2011

When the chips are down

Christmas is almost upon us, but you would have a hard time knowing so here in Fengyuan (Fēng​yuán) 豐原. Sure, there are a few stores with some Xmas decorations up, and the occasional Yuletide jingle can be heard from a loudspeaker, but for the most part the scenery downtown is as usual. Now don't get me wrong - I don't expect this non-Western, non-Christian society to fully accept what is, after all, an alien holiday, and I'm not feeling any disappointment or sadness about this situation. Rather, I just know that somewhere out there in the blogosphere, there is a Westerner who has posted something about the bright decorations he/she can see in T'aipei (Tái​běi) 台北, noting that the Taiwanese have embraced Christmas with a passion (I recall one overly enthusiastic blogger a few years ago who remarked that the people here were even more excited about the holiday than the folks back in his/her home country. This person was writing from T'aipei, of course). I had planned after work to walk into downtown Fengyuan and take a photo of how it was mostly business as usual in these parts, but due to the effects of the full-blown cold I've come down with, in the end I just sneaked a quick picture of this food vendor's sign before getting on my scooter and going home. Hiding among the characters for yibao 刈包 and rùn​bǐng 潤餅 (photo) is the Japanese word わさび, wasabi.

Tis the season for goodwill to all men, or at least it seems so for Japan's Elpida Memory エルピーダメモリ , according to this Kyōdō News 共同通信社 article from today's Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ:

"Chipmaker Elpida Memory Inc. is thinking of forming a capital and business alliance with Taiwanese semiconductor maker Nanya Technology Corp., sources close to the matter said Thursday.

Elpida aims to take advantage of the tie-up to improve its business performance, which has deteriorated from the strong yen and falling prices for its mainstay dynamic random access memory chips, the sources said.

But it remains uncertain whether such an alliance will form because Elpida has sued Nanya in Taiwan and the United States for infringing on its DRAM patents.

Under the plan, Elpida will consider licensing Nanya to manufacture Elpida products, while focusing on cutting-edge products at its plant in Hiroshima Prefecture 広島県, the sources said."

Chips are big business in Taiwan, and Elpida is a major player here. It might seem kind of odd to be simultaneously suing and wooing a bitter rival/potential partner, but losing ¥56.76 billion ($726.6 million/NT22 billion) over a six-month period earlier this year might have something to do with this move. In any event, it appears that Nanya isn't very interested at this stage, at least according to the Taipei Times:

"Nanya Technology Corp (南亞科技), the nation’s biggest PC DRAM chipmaker, (Thursday) denied any knowledge of a plan to engage in technology and capital tie-up talks with Japan’s biggest memory chipmaker, Elpida Memory Inc, as has been reported in the media.

The T'aoyuän (Táo​yuán)​ 桃園-based chipmaker’s comments came after the Nikkei Business Daily 日本経済新聞 reported yesterday that Elpida Memory was set to start talks next month with Nanya to form an alliance. Creating a holding company was one of approaches being studied, the Nikkei said.

The speculation came after most local DRAM chipmakers drifted into deep losses because of weak chip prices, which have plunged over 55 percent since May this year..."
 
Apparently there isn't much peace on earth when it comes to Japanese/Taiwanese chipmaking operations. Let the chips fall where they may!


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