Micron Technology, the largest U.S. maker of memory chips, and smaller rival Nanya Technology have signed an agreement on technology licensing and a possible chip joint venture, sources from both companies said.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) before the Lunar New Year early this month, the sources at the two companies told Reuters Insight, a unit of Reuters. No financial terms were given.
A Nanya Technology spokeswoman denied, however, that her company had signed an MOU with Micron, while reiterating that it was in talks on possible cooperation with makers of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips, the mainstay of computer memory chips.
No comment was immediately available from Micron .
The DRAM chip sector has been battered by tumbling prices that pushed many major players, including Micron and Nanya Technology, into the red.
The sources said the first stage of the tie-up, which could be finalized next month, would include licensing of 1 gigabit, 68 nanometre technology for a new Nanya Tech chipmaking facility. The facility will start production of the new chips in the third quarter of this year, they said.
Analysts said the alliance had come at the right time, as the DRAM chip market was expected to rebound in the second half of the year.
Sector leader Samsung Electronics has said it expected a global oversupply of computer chips and lower prices to last through the first half of the year, but market conditions should change dramatically in the second half when demand picks up.
If the deal is finalised, Micron could also replace Qimonda as Nanya Tech's advanced technology partner, a Nanya Tech source said.