January 2009 Archives

The DRAM price crash and the credit crunch have combined to push struggling Qimonda over the edge. Today, the German memory maker applied to a Munich court to go into administration. According to the statement, the company aims to slim down its business even further while in administration.

However, just in case someone does want a memory maker at a significantly lower price than last week, the company was keen to make sure they don't miss the fact that they have the buried-wordline technology. It's mentioned no less than five times in the statement. Buried wordline provides a way of making the memories denser without pushing so hard on the actual process geometries, so could be attractive to the other memory makers out there.

The problem is no one is having much luck getting money out of the banks, which lent heavily in the middle of the decade, with much of the money going to a group of Taiwanese companies. They went on a spending spree which, naturally, led to a glut in DRAM supply and the whole market went south. The unfortunate reality is that there remains too much capacity in the business for the demand that is there. If someone wants buried wordline and has the cash, they probably won't want the fabs that go with it.

In mid-October, after former CEO Mike Fister was sent packing, the board of Cadence Design Systems created an interim office of the chief executive to run the company and with a couple of the same people, set up a committee to find Fister's successor.

Having spent three months looking for a suitable candidate, that search committee decided the best option was to appoint one of its own: Cadence board member of five years' standing Lip-Bu Tan.

Tan was welcomed into the job by fellow search-committee member John Shoven, who is chairman of the board of directors, in the press release:

"Over the past several months, our board has conducted an extensive search for a CEO candidate with the expertise and ability to effectively navigate the challenges facing Cadence and the industry and to capitalise on the opportunities in the market we serve.

“While leading Cadence over the past few months, Lip-Bu has been instrumental in refining the company’s strategy, optimising its R&D structure, implementing audit committee recommendations resulting from its investigation of accounting issues, monitoring the completion of the financial restatement, and executing on a significant restructuring plan."

Tan's background is as a venture capitalist, having started in the nuclear engineering business. It's not clear right now whether he will remain chairman of his VC firm Walden International or move to a non-exec role there or give up some of his non-exec positions at other companies.