Qimonda, at one time the second largest DRAM manufacturer in the world, has filed for insolvency under German law, the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States. Such action provides creditor protection while it reorganizes its operations and restructures its debt.
Formed from the memory technology assets of Infineon in 2006, Qimonda was hit hard both by falling DRAM prices and the global credit crunch. Its name never really caught on either, as the Infineon brand was well known worldwide. It also sounded much cooler.
Qimonda was one of the first DRAM manufacturers to build on 300mm wafers, greatly lowering production costs but requiring costly initial investments. It now ranks fourth in production, behind Samsung, Hynix, and Elpida.
They had a much vaunted strategic alliance with Nanya through their joint venture Inotera Memories, but split after Nanya decided not to pursue development of Qimonda's Buried Wordline Technology. Qimonda sold its stake in Inotera to Micron last October.
Qimonda is currently dependent on its "Deep Trench" technology in comparison to the standard stacked capacitors of most DRAM manufacturers. Deep Trench technology has the potential for much smaller die sizes, along with lower power consumption due to lower current leakage. This makes it ideal for notebooks and netbooks, allowing for greater battery life.
However, Qimonda has had trouble in transitioning to lower process geometries due to technical hurdles in this esoteric technology.
Similar troubles have delayed its new evolutionary Buried Wordline Technology, which incorporated Deep Trench technology along with lower costs and a simplified manufacturing process. It featured unprecedented die sizes for DRAM, which would have made it extremely cost effective to produce on 300mm lines. They predicted that a 46nm line using Buried Wordline would produce four times as many dies as a 75nm Deep Trench line on 300mm.
In November 2008, Qimonda announced initial sales of 1Gb DDR2 using 65nm, and sampling of 46nm 2Gb DDR3 using Buried Wordline. It wanted to introduce mass production of 46nm 2Gb DDR3 in the middle of 2009, to compete with 50nm DDR3 chips from Samsung and Elpida.
It is unclear how much their product development will be affected. Their roadmap currently includes plans to produce 32nm DDR3 in 2010.
quote: If only they would have done price fixing like the LCD makers, this wouldn't have happened. =)