SanDisk, Toshiba to work on flash memory

SanDisk Corp. and Toshiba Corp. will work together on a technology to produce cheaper and higher density flash memory chips, the companies said Wednesday.

The companies will work on 90 nanometer, or 0.09 micron, process technology, which allows more megabytes per wafer, increasing the output and lowering production cost, the companies said in a statement.

The micron figure refers to the size of circuits etched onto the surface of the chips. One micron is equal to one one-thousandth of a millimeter.

SanDisk of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Toshiba of Tokyo expect to sample the first products made using the technique in the second half of next year with production scheduled for the first quarter of 2004. Production plans are for 2G-bit and 4G-bit NAND-type flash memory, as well as various smaller densities, the companies said.

NAND-type flash memory is designed to have fast rewrite characteristics and high storage volume and is used in memory cards such as Smart Media, Compact Flash and SD (secure digital) cards for devices such as mobile phones and digital cameras.

Toshiba’s and SanDisk’s rivals are also working on techniques to more efficiently produce memory chips. Samsung Semiconductor Inc. in August said it started mass producing 1G-bit flash memory chips using 0.12 micron or 120 nanometer manufacturing technology.