NEC Hitachi unveils new memory chip and company name

NEC-Hitachi Memory Inc., the joint venture company formed by NEC Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., unveiled Thursday its new name and the first of its new products.

The company will be called Elpida Memory Inc., a name derived from the Greek root word “eplis,” which means expectation, Kenji Tokuyama, president of the new company, told a Tokyo press conference Thursday.

Work at the newly named company began in April this year when 200 engineers from NEC and Hitachi began work on memory products based on a 0.13 micron rule. The number represents the smallest gap that can exist between circuits on the surface of the chip and 0.13 micron (a micron is a thousandth of a millimeter) is regarded as state-of-the-art technology.

Tokumasa Yasui, executive vice-president of Elpida, who showed a silicon wafer of prototype memory chips produced at 0.13 micron, unveiled the first results of that work. The chips are capable of holding 256M bits of data and are half the physical size of existing chips that can hold the same amount of data.

The new chips, which will be available in both SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) and DDR SDRAM (double data rate SDRAM) versions, will ship in sample quantities in the first quarter of 2001 and should enter mass production in the second quarter of next year. By December 2001, Elpida expects to be producing five million chips per month.

The chips, like others to be sold by the company, will be produced at factories belonging to its parent companies. The main DRAM production centers will be NEC Hiroshima in Japan and Hitachi Nippon Steel Semiconductor Singapore. Initially the company will be using these production facilities but said Yasui, if the company can show its parents that it has great potential, it may invest in its own facilities in the future.

Elpida was formed on December 20, 1999, after NEC and Hitachi inked an agreement to combine their respective DRAM research, development and sales operations.