China wants to massively expand its own memory chip production. For this purpose, the startup SwaySure (Shenzhen Sheng Weixu Technology Company) was founded in March. The registered capital of 5 billion yuan (around 700 million euros) comes 100 percent from the state-owned Shenzhen Major Industry Investment Group. To Taiwanese media reports Around 300 billion yuan (42 billion euros) are to flow into the development of DRAM production in the next few years. The plan is to produce 140,000 300-millimeter wafers per month using the 28-nanometer process. Construction work is currently underway, and test production is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2024.
To achieve these ambitious goals, SwaySure has recruited 75-year-old Japanese manager Sakamoto Yukio as Chief Strategy Officer, who has previously served as CEO of memory manufacturer Elpida, which has been part of Micron since its bankruptcy in 2012. Liu Xiaoqiang, who managed several factories of the Taiwanese contract manufacturer TSMC until three years ago, will take over as CEO of SwaySure.
SwaySure: 5 years behind in development
The three major manufacturers, Micron from the USA and Samsung and SK Hynix from South Korea, currently share around 95 percent of the memory market. Despite the gigantic investments, SwaySure would have to catch up with an enormous technological gap. Samsung already manufactures DRAM in 14-nanometer structures with EUV exposure and intends to complete the development of the 11-nanometer technology this year. This corresponds to a lead of about 5 years over the currently largest Chinese memory manufacturer ChangXin Memory Technologies (CXMT), which manufactures 18-nanometer memory chips.
China has been investing hundreds of billions of euros in chip production for several years in order to become more independent from other countries. In 2019, a US embargo caused a Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company (JICC) DRAM factory to shut down.