Toshiba and SanDisk advance flash memory production schedule

Toshiba and SanDisk are to advance their schedule for opening a flash-memory production line in Japan by approximately one year...

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Toshiba and SanDisk are to advance their schedule for opening a flash-memory production line in Japan by approximately one year and increase the capacity of the line.

The factory will produce Nand flash memory of the type used in memory cards and portable digital electronics products.

The two companies announced in December last year plans to build a state-of-the-art production line capable of processing 300mm wafers at Toshiba's existing facility in Yokkaichi, Japan.

At the time they said they hoped to begin mass production during its 2006 financial year, which begins in April of the same year. But the schedule has now been revised with an eye on full-scale production from the second half of financial year 2005.

Construction will begin next April.

Initial manufacturing is planned using an as-yet-undeveloped technology that can etch tracks on the chip surface as small as 70 nanometers in width. That represents a generation beyond the most advanced production in use today and the companies said they are working on developing the technology to enable it.

The two companies have increased their estimate of the investment needed in the new plant from $1.4bn to $1.8bn. The amount has been raised because planned production capacity has been increased from 20,000 wafers a month to 25,000 wafers a month.

Toshiba will fund the construction of the building while both companies will pay for the manufacturing equipment. The line will be operated by FlashVision, a joint venture established in 2001 to consolidate their production of Nand-type flash memory.

The two companies will soon commence negotiations on a formal agreement to build the production line.

Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service



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