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Toshiba chip could be first to 90 nanometer

Toshiba America Electronic Components (TAEC) has announced the design availability of chips built on a 90-nanometer process, with high-volume production expected by the third quarter.

TAEC's TC300 application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips could be the first chips to appear based on a 90nm process. Intel 's first 90nm product is expected to be the successor to the Pentium 4, codenamed Prescott, which is due out later this year.

ASICs are made for a specific purpose, and are generally designed by the manufacturer of the product in which they will be used. Other processors, such as Intel's Pentium 4 or Advanced Micro Devices's Athlon XP, are referred to as general integrated circuits.

Most processors have been built on a 130nm process. As process technologies shrink, more transistors can be placed on the same die size, leading to higher performance. The size of the process refers to the width of the smallest wire on the chip. One nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter.

TAEC's 90nm process resulted in a chip that uses half the power than its 0.13micron ASIC chip, it said. The TC300 will be used in high-speed networking applications, digital multimedia devices and portable wireless devices.

Orders are limited to TAEC's large customers right now, but the company will ramp up to mass production in the second quarter.

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