Toshiba and Samsung Electronics are making progress in independent research projects aimed at realising chips that are two generations down the line from today's most advanced semiconductors.
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The work is targeting chips which have features as small as 45 nanometers across.
In comparison, the most advanced of today's chips are produced using a 90-nanometer process and production at the next step technology of 65 nanometers is not expected by chip makers to begin until 2005 at the earliest.
Each generational jump in technology typically allows chip makers to build more advanced semiconductors which pack more processing power in a smaller package and consume less energy. For this reason, progress in manufacturing technology is a vital part of realising faster, smaller and cheaper chips and ultimately the products in which they are used.
The first of Toshiba's announcements detailed development of a high performance metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor.
The transistor uses a new gate-oxide technology to combat current leakage, which is expected to become more of a problem in future chips because they use less power.
The company also said it has developed a multi-layer wiring technology suitable for use in chips made with a 45-nanometer process.
Samsung Electronics said it had developed a three-dimensional transistor process technology for 50-nanometer production.
Earlier this year Toshiba and Sony agreed to pool resources on development of 45 nanometer chip technology.
Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service