US ban set to thwart Chinese DRAM entry

October 30, 2018 // By Peter Clarke
The US Department of Commerce has announced a ban on US companies selling software and technology to Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. without special licenses, saying the company, "poses a significant risk of becoming involved in activities that are contrary to the national security interests of the United States."

In so doing the DoC is firing another salvo in the proxy trade war between the United States and China and supporting Micron Technology Inc., which has been locked in countervailing law suits with Jinhua and its technology supplier United Microelectronics Corp. (Hsinchu, Taiwan).

Fujian Jinhua, which is owned by the provincial government of Fujian in southeastern China, is nearing the completion of a DRAM wafer fab at an eventual cost of $5.3 billion fab that is being equipped to make DRAMs on 32nm process at a rate of 60,000 wafers per month.

"When a foreign company engages in activity contrary to our national security interests, we will take strong action to protect our national security," said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, in a statement. He continued: "Placing Jinhua on the Entity List will limit its ability to threaten the supply chain for essential components in our military systems."

Back in 2017 Micron filed a civil lawsuit against UMC and Fujian Jinhua in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for the alleged misappropriation of Micron trade secrets. In January 2018 UMC brought a case to court in Fuzhou, China, alleging that Micron is infringing UMC patents in three memory applications related to the DDR4 interface standard and was rewarded with an interim ban on Micron selling 26 types of DRAM and NAND flash memory in China.

Adding a company to Entity List of the Export Administration Regulations means that a license is required for all exports, re-exports, and transfers of commodities, software and technology.

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