Taiwan Memory Resurrected for NAND Flash Memory Pact

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The Taiwanese government has resurrected a plan to use Taiwan Memory Co. (TMC) in the chip making business, this time to focus solely on NAND flash memory.

Taiwan's economics ministry announced approval of a plan for TMC to join with several chip makers on the island to develop NAND flash technology, including ProMOS Technologies, Photronics Semiconductor Mask Corp., and Elite Semiconductor Memory Technology.

The group will research and analyze NAND flash memory chip technology and develop chip designs, mask technology and testing processes, the economics ministry said in a statement late Tuesday.

"Since Taiwan lacks patents and self-developed NAND flash technology, it is extremely limited in its ability to develop flash products," the statement says.

The statement does not specifically say what aid the government will offer the group of chip makers, but government approval normally allows companies to tap government funds for research projects.

TMC was originally supposed to be a government-sponsored company to consolidate the island's indebted DRAM makers into one bigger, stronger company able to develop new technologies without the help of foreign partners and pay back loans mainly held by Taiwanese banks. The plan appeared dead in March, when lawmakers voted it down, saying a rebound in DRAM prices and apparent recovery in the global economy mean the government should stay out of the business.

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