Toshiba to foray into new group of memory chips

CIOL Bureau
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TOKYO, JAPAN: Toshiba would advance towards its first step to mass production of a new group of memory chips later this year when it starts construction of a new factory in Japan.


The factory would be Toshiba's fifth at its production base in Yokkaichi in western Japan. It will originally be used to manufacture conventional NAND flash chips, although Toshiba plans to develop this to latest types of 3D memory where chips and components are stacked upright.

NAND flash is perhaps the most ubiquitous kind of memory in use nowadays. It is what's inside USB sticks and memory cards and can as well be found embedded in devices including digital cameras, cell phones and solid-state drives (SSDs).

Semiconductor makers are continuously trying to enhance the capacity of their chips by packing components nearer however engineers are beginning to be concerned that this technique might be reaching its restrictions.


This is where 3D memory comes into the picture. Engineers could continue increasing the capacity of chips without dealing with smaller and smaller memory cells by building vertically in addition to horizontal ones.

Norio Sasaki, president and CEO of Toshiba during a conference stated, Toshiba will begin construction of its latest plant in the month of July this year and anticipates first phase production of NAND memory to start in the spring of next year. The production will be in the 20-nanometer class and approximately be equivalent to that announced earlier this year by Intel and Micron.

In anticipation of a new factory both Toshiba and SanDisk began working on 3D memory chips in 2008. The commencement of this construction represents a significant step towards probable future production of the chips.

The development plans are part of a push by Toshiba to accomplish compound annual development of about 8 percent in its semiconductor business over the next three years. The business achieved net sales of about ¥1.3 trillion (US$14 billion) in the earlier fiscal year although Toshiba wants this to develop to ¥1.65 trillion over the period.

To assist it and other business areas develop the company is increasing total capital expenditure by 74 percent in comparison to last year and investing an additional 10 percent in research and development.