NEC Electronics and Elpida Memory are to form a joint venture to design and manufacture display driver ICs which are used in LCD and plasma displays. NEC will own 80 per cent of the new outfit, while Elpida will own 20 per cent.
Display driver ICs are used in televisions, computer monitors, and other products. They are embedded in the periphery of the display panel, driving the panel to display the picture on the screen.
NEC has been active in the business since 1989, when it built a driver IC for large LCD panels used in personal computers. Since then, its product offerings in the field have included a plasma display panel driver IC, which was commercialised in 1996, and a driver IC for small LCD panels commonly used in mobile phones, which was launched in 1997.
In the fiscal year ended March 2008, NEC Electronics recorded annual sales of approximately $0.75bn in its display driver IC business with a 12 -13 per cent share of the world market.
Elpida, established in December 1999 as Japan's only dedicated DRAM manufacturer, has since grown to become the world's third-largest memory maker, with sales of £3.8bn for the fiscal year ended March 2008.
Elpida's plant in Hiroshima, which will be used to manufacture the products developed by the joint venture, has one of the largest 300mm fabs in the world with a monthly capacity of approximately 120,000 wafers.