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Taiwanese DRAM firm sets up LED venture

ProMOS Technologies, which specializes in making dynamic random access memory chips, decides that now is the time to get involved in the LED business.

In a bid to make a play in the LED market, two Taiwanese companies from the mainstream silicon semiconductor business have set up a new joint venture company called EpiLED.

ProMOS Technologies, a maker of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, and equipment vendor Hermes-Epitek have raised NT$550 million ($16.8 million) to get the chip manufacturing firm up and running.

ProMOS chairman M L Chen will oversee the running of the EpiLED, with a trial manufacturing run slated for the second quarter of 2007 and volume production set to follow after that.

The company told compoundsemiconductor.net that it would focus on manufacturing unpackaged chip die for blue LEDs.

ProMOS has sunk NT$160 million of its own money into the venture, and is expected to provide the MOCVD equipment required for volume wafer manufacturing at the joint venture's fab in the Tainan Science Park.

ProMOS reckons that it can leverage its mainstream semiconductor know-how and help to open up new applications such as large-scale LCD backlights, automotive lamps and indoor lighting.

Already a large semiconductor company, with recent quarterly revenue reaching NT$11.7 billion ($360 million), ProMOS will have sizeable resources and experience with which to support the venture.

Hermes-Epitek sells a variety of chip processing equipment, including ion implantation, wafer probe, etching and inspection kit.

However, the market entry of the joint venture could certainly be viewed as a very late one. Taiwan's LED industry has undergone huge restructuring in the past couple of years, with much consolidation among major manufacturers.

For example, the merger between Epistar and United Epitaxy Company last year (see related story) created what is believed to be the world's largest LED maker in terms of wafer volumes.

But following two years of similar retrenchment, Taiwan's LED makers have recently begun to order more MOCVD reactors as demand continues to grow. Both Veeco Instruments and Aixtron have witnessed a significant boost in orders for such equipment.

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