There are many next-generation memory technologies that are interesting, said El-Khoury but added: "I won't bet the ranch. All of these technologies have already been in the works for years." The implication is Cypress will let others do the heavy lifting and gain access to the most appropriate embedded memory technology when it is available form a foundry.
Cypress runs a mixed manufacturing business model with its own 200mm fab in Austin, Texas. In 2017 the company sold its Bloomington, Minnesota wafer fab, which became Skywater Technology Foundry, with a multi-year supply contract to produce legacy products for Cypress (see SkyWater foundry formed from Cypress fab sale). "All future [manufacturing process] technology at 40nm and below are foundry," El-Khoury added. El-Khoury said that if embedded MRAM or ReRAM with the right characteristics emerged it would likely be available from a foundry.
The ending of an economic cycle, together with exceptional items such as the US-China trade war, seems to be leading forecasters to the conclusion that 2019 will be a difficult year. El-Khoury doesn't disagree but said that from Cypress's point of view it doesn't change anything. "I don't make a knee-jerk to short-term events. Things maybe slower in the first half of 2019 and build again in the second half. But all our peers see the same thing. We will weather through it and not change our strategy. We will invest. Small companies can't afford to, but I will double-down on demand creation; press the accelerator because we have the opportunity."
How does El-Khoury view China as a market and source of competition?
"China is another one of a list of competitor countries – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan – but leading-edge development still happens in the US. China is still one or two generations behind [in manufacturing process technology]. There's also a lot of talk about intellectual property as the next frontier and the US has a lot of IP. China needs to invest faster to catch up," said El-Khoury.
"China is important as a market. We just celebrated being in that market for 20 years. But it is important that we protect IP there just as we do everywhere else. But we welcome competitors on a technology basis, because we will win where we focus."
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