Friday, July 6th 2018

Chinese DRAM Companies Stealing DRAM IP From Samsung and SK Hynix

It's not just Micron, but also Korean DRAM giants Samsung and SK Hynix, that are the latest victims of large-scale industrial espionage by Chinese DRAM makers to steal vital DRAM intellectual property (IP), according to Korea Times. Today's DRAM makers build their products on IP acquired over decades, and that is time Chinese companies do not have, and aren't willing to license from established DRAM makers, either.

"Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix have become the target of industrial espionage by Chinese memory chip manufacturers. In semiconductors, patents are critical to the cost structure. The companies have to protect what they have spent decades building. The result is Chinese companies are attempting to infringe on Samsung and SK patents," said a Korean official involved in the investigation of IP theft.
"Without intellectual property, you can't become a meaningful player. You need brand-new technology and you have to have capability for large-scale production. Also, you should be qualified for product specifications and designs and to meet demanding customer application requests. All of these can be done with intellectual property that has been built over the course of decades. Chinese companies aren't ready for this," said a Samsung engineer. "Chinese companies are finding the development of DRAM and flash-memory manufacturing processes is more difficult to than they thought."

Both Korean companies are closely following the ongoing legal battle between Micron Technology and Fujian Jin Hua IC, in Chinese courts; where the American company is faring badly in counter-lawsuits. Fujian Jin Hua IC is alleged to have used Taiwanese semiconductor foundry UMC to steal Micron's IP, whereas a counter-suit by UMC seems to have won in Chinese courts, with Micron staring at a market-access denial by China, in the backdrop of one of the biggest trade-wars between China and the United States, ever. Source: Korea Times
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49 Comments on Chinese DRAM Companies Stealing DRAM IP From Samsung and SK Hynix

#26
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
Totally
Scroll down the TPU front page to the Micron being banned article.
Actually, it is not reversed there. Micron sued first. The counter suits by China because they feel they can do whatever they want, are what won in Court, pending any appeal by Micron.
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#27
stimpy88
Caring1
Say what! Care to back that up?
Xerox is to photocopiers what IBM was to computers.
Seriously? :banghead:
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#28
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
stimpy88
Seriously? :banghead:
Yes. 1959. Look it up.
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#29
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
They copy aircraft designs, no innovation from them...

If the plants get shut down there it is China's own fault.
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#30
R0H1T
eidairaman1
They copy aircraft designs, no innovation from them...

If the plants get shut down there it is China's own fault.
Yeah & if 3d printing was advanced enough then they'd just copy the whole factory! Wait I shouldn't be giving them any ludicrous ideas :shadedshu:
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#31
GoldenX
rtwjunkie
Sure, why not just f**k anyone that ever developed or invented anything while we are at it? Because, I’ll tell you, it would stagnate all advancement in any field, that’s why. What China is doing should not be condoned at all.
Fixing prices also stagnates the market just as well, there is no bonus point in that for the inventors.
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#32
ST.o.CH
R0H1T
That's cute except when people are preaching eye for an eye it just makes the world blind, not four eyed. If you think Samsung, SK Hynix colluded to fix mem prices then fine them, break them up but to give more power to the Chinese will only lead to one conclusion.
When companies go to manufacture to foreign countries, just and only because they will get more profits than producing in their own countries, they don't go to help others economy, but increase their own.
China play their own rules on their own country, and was about time to do something about foreign companies leaving the profits out of China.
I'm not a fan of stealing ip but " Nature always finds a way".
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#33
Hood
Trade wars can be more devastating than military wars, at least in economic terms. The new Chinese cold war soldier is a hacker, industrial spy, coin miner, or accountant. But that's good if you're a young man, you won't end up as cannon fodder, and might get a cushy desk job, instead of a soul-crushing factory production job. The US and European leaders should adjust their military and intelligence spending to counter these alarming trends, while they still can. A loss is a loss, and remaining alive is not much consolation when you can't get a job.
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#34
sutyi
R0H1T
Yeah you don't but the vast majority of us do & knowing China's modus operandi maybe you should reconsider your opinion!
For instance over here, Chinese phone makers undercut local competition by selling mid range phones at dirt cheap prices, virtually killing them in the process. Surprise surprise, 5 years on with the market cornered, they're overcharging for the same mid range phones!
Well that is part of the truth about cheap smartphone brands.

Please consider that once a brand grows to a certain size and brand recognition prices will be going up inevitably. Not do to sheer market share, but due to the fact that they need to build up a certain underlying supply chain. Meaning brand stores, delivery roots, brand service center or licenced service partners for their products. These all need to be supplied, maintained and staffed, whom are need to payed all the while.

I'm not pro IP theft as I stated above, but to put it into analogy:
If you take away my lunch money, and then come to me to bitch about some other dude copying your exam, don't expect moral support...
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#35
R0H1T
sutyi
Well that is part of the truth about cheap smartphone brands.

Please consider that once a brand grows to a certain size and brand recognition prices will be going up inevitably. Not do to sheer market share, but due to the fact that they need to build up a certain underlying supply chain. Meaning brand stores, delivery roots, brand service center or licenced service partners for their products. These all need to be supplied, maintained and staffed, whom are need to payed all the while.

I'm not pro IP theft as I stated above, but to put it into analogy:
If you take away my lunch money, and then come to me to bitch about some other dude copying your exam, don't expect moral support...
How does that make sense in the example I put forth? Did the local manufacturers steal anything from Chinese phone makers? If anything the state subsidies allows Chinese companies to undercut their competition for as long as they want. After they've established a foothold they drive these competitors out of business by hook or by crook. Also the part where you say that increased sales means more costs, due to greater/wider support, that only works to a certain extent but with economies of scale the handsets are cheaper to produce, not to mention the Chinese phone makers now enjoy local/federal tax breaks.

So what ever you're saying is actually the complete opposite of things on the ground.
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#36
Totally
eidairaman1
If the plants get shut down there it is China's own fault.
They'd actually welcome this. They'd pay beans for it, wouldn't have to step on any toes or deal with fallout if they acquired the plant by other means, and probably already have people the can move right into it.

GoldenX
Fixing prices also stagnates the market just as well, there is no bonus point in that for the inventors.
There is a bonus for them fixing prices, it's cold hard cash. What there is not is incentive for them to continue to innovate and invent, that is what leads to stagnation.
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#37
GoldenX
Sorry, I wanted to say "golden star" or something of the kind, meaning they don't get a pass because they have the IPs.

Samsung didn't have a clean start in the industry, and now everybody loves them. We in Argentina need cheaper prices on hardware, the dollar here went from 1USD=20ARS to 1USD=29USD, plus internal inflation and social unrest thanks to the intervention of the IMF. I couldn't care less about companies doing an oligopoly and then getting they toys stolen from (surprise, suprprise) China.
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#38
TheGuruStud
All I see is that people are mad China is far better at capitalism than the US lol

C'mon, speed up your race to the bottom to compete. It is the American Way ®
Posted on Reply
#39
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
Patent and copyright law is meant to allow businesses to recover research and development investments through sales so they have the assets to move on to research something else. If all IPs were stolen seconds after the product debuts, there wouldn't be anymore research and development because the companies with the brain power to innovate won't have the financial backing to fund it. All we'd be left with is what is available on the market now. Capitalism doesn't work well with high crime nor does it work well with few competitors that are in cahoots with each other (oligarchy, not capitalism).
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#40
GoldenX
China doesn't play by the rules, and they did know that, the savings in manufacturing came at a high karma cost.
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#41
TheGuruStud
FordGT90Concept
Patent and copyright law is meant to allow businesses to recover research and development investments through sales so they have the assets to move on to research something else. If all IPs were stolen seconds after the product debuts, there wouldn't be anymore research and development because the companies with the brain power to innovate won't have the financial backing to fund it. All we'd be left with is what is available on the market now. Capitalism doesn't work well with high crime nor does it work well with few competitors that are in cahoots with each other (oligarchy, not capitalism).
That is capitalism, b/c that's what it promotes. There is no right or wrong as long as you can get the most money. Regulations never last. Even Europe has fallen to the disease. We're nearing the end. This is full blown acquisition stage.
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#42
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
TheGuruStud
That is capitalism, b/c that's what it promotes. There is no right or wrong as long as you can get the most money. Regulations never last. Even Europe has fallen to the disease. We're nearing the end. This is full blown acquisition stage.
There is no eliminating greed no matter the economic system because it is part of the human condition. Capitalism attempts to harness greed to drive growth. Regulators attempt to prevent greed from getting out of hand.
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#43
Rhyseh
In other news water is wet and the sky is blue..... China has been blatantly stealing IP and copying patents for decades....
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#44
Prima.Vera
Everytime I hear or read some news that China AGAIN stoled some IP from <insert brand here>, imediatelly comes into my mind the cheap knockoffs like Abibas, Mike, Sonny, Powasonic, etc or all of their phone companies who callously copied almost the same designs from Samsung's Galaxy or Apple iPhones...:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:
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#45
Vayra86
rtwjunkie
Sure, why not just f**k anyone that ever developed or invented anything while we are at it? Because, I’ll tell you, it would stagnate all advancement in any field, that’s why. What China is doing should not be condoned at all.
Well no, but patents also work the other way around, completely blocking innovation and funneling more money to a minority of key players in the market. Plus, look at the US and its patent system including all of its idiocy, its patent trolls etc. Its a serious problem too. But that has little to do with China per se.

GoldenX
China doesn't play by the rules, and they did know that, the savings in manufacturing came at a high karma cost.
Who cares, Chinese have Feng Shui

I honestly can't be all too bothered with all of this. We've seen it coming for decades and now that it gets serious we act surprised. Its the same hypocrisy as using them for cheap labor and then complaining about human rights and working conditions. Its payback time and we're receiving. Deal with it.
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#46
Caring1
Why bother with court cases if everyone assumes they are already guilty!
Surely the heading should read: Allegedly stealing DRAM IP?
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#47
sirlesliechao
TheinsanegamerN
Good. These companies have been fixing prices for years, making the market attractive to countries like China who see an opportunity for $$$. And when you export your production to countries like Thailand and China, dont be surprised when your tech is stolen.

At the very least, this will force these companies to drop their price fixing garbage.

When the companies involved export their production to insecure asian countries and fix the market causing large price increases and big fat margins, anyone could have told them china would be trying to do this. When companies abuse their position for long enough, many people lose sympathy for them when their tech gets stolen.
For the most part, DRAM was/is a commodity product - pricing largely depends on market conditions. There are probably exceptions. DRAM is also extremely volatile in pricing (see attached link) - in 2016, DRAM demand dropped 8%, only for it to surge 77% in 2017. The forecast for 2018 is 30%. As per the IC insights article, bit growth for the big three are expected to average 20%.

Here's the problem. DRAM is cyclical. In the mid-2000's everyone made a ton of DRAM, expecting huge demand. That never materialized, ASP dropped, and everyone lost a ton of money. I remember when we made a $1 billion dollar profit, and I remember when we lost close to half a billion dollars. In either case, business as normal. There was never an attempt to decrease capacity. Our job was to move wafers, and we moved as many as we could.

Fabs are also stupid expensive to build these days, and take a while to actually build, then start up. Back in the day, a couple billion dollars was a reasonable amount of money for a fab. Today it's probably more. Profit drives the ability to expand. That's why over the years, the amount of companies actually making DRAM has sharply declined.

Furthermore, just because your factory is online, doesn’t mean you can expect profits day 1. You're not going to sell the first DRAM wafer that comes out the fab. I also remember hearing that some company took a capacity hit when they transitioned to 3D NAND because of extra tooling, production/yield ramps, etc.

That comes to patents. IP is important, and protects your investment, which then drives growth. If it took you $10 billion dollars to develop a product only for China to steal your patent, that might put them $5 billion dollars ahead (i came up with the numbers, but you get the point).

The current state of semiconductors is that everything is hard, and expensive - see last link.

“3nm will cost $4 billion to $5 billion in process development, and the fab cost for 40,000 wafers per month will be $15 billion to $20 billion,” IBS’ Jones said.

So, I get the frustration with DRAM/NAND pricing. I remember the days of $10 RAM. However, there’s a lot that goes into DRAM production, and by extension cost. From the articles i’ve been reading, it seems like many of these fabs are running at full capacity, and any increase requires expansion - which involves, time, money, and people. None of which happens overnight.

http://www.icinsights.com/news/bulletins/are-the-major-dram-suppliers-stunting-dram-demand/
https://www.electronicsweekly.com/blogs/mannerisms/markets/dram-grew-76-2027-will-grow-30-2018says-dramexchange-2018-02/
https://semiengineering.com/big-trouble-at-3nm/
Posted on Reply
#48
bug
Vayra86
Well no, but patents also work the other way around, completely blocking innovation and funneling more money to a minority of key players in the market. Plus, look at the US and its patent system including all of its idiocy, its patent trolls etc. Its a serious problem too. But that has little to do with China per se.
Patents are supposed to work like that. They're a contract: if you as an individual/company invest your own resources to bring something new to the market, we, the state, will forbid anyone else from building the same thing for a number of years, while you may reap the benefits of your work. They absolutely don't "completely block innovation" and the money funneling is the whole reason they exist in the first place.

Now, if every patent needs to be upheld for two decades and what gets patented, that's an entirely different story.
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#49
Fx
FordGT90Concept
Two wrongs don't make a right. They all need to be prosecuted.
Agreed. This is all about principle. Stealing isn't right and is wholly its own issue and not to be considered with other matters.
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