Thu, May 15, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Toshiba, SanDisk to mass produce ‘3D’ memory chip


Japan’s Toshiba Corp is teaming up with US chip giant SanDisk Corp to produce a “3D” memory chip they hope will allow users to save up to 50 hours of ultra-high-definition video.

In a deal worth a reported ¥500 billion (US$4.84 billion) the companies are to build a factory to make flash memory consisting of several layers of semiconductors stacked together to give as much as a terabyte — 1,000 gigabytes — of storage.

That is about 16 times bigger than the largest 64-gigabyte Toshiba memory currently available in smartphones and tablet devices.

Toshiba will demolish its existing plant in Japan to build a new facility that will house production apparatus using technologies from both firms and which the firms hope will start operating in 2016, a statement said.

“In about five years [from the planned start of the factory], we would like to produce one-terabyte products,” a Toshiba spokeswoman said.

The plan comes at a time of increasing competition among the world’s technology firms to meet demand for ever-higher capacity memory chips for consumers increasingly using mobile devices such as smart phones, tablet computers and wearable gadgets.

The spread of high-definition video, with so-called 4K-resolution screens at the leading edge, is boosting demand for computing memory to store content.

“Small, high-capacity memories can of course be applied to smartphones, but they could also be used for wearable devices,” the Toshiba spokeswoman said.

Manufacturers have traditionally competed with regular chips by trying to make the physical object smaller.

Toshiba, along with major rivals such as Samsung, believe they are reaching the physical limit, and are shifting toward 3D memories, where layering — effectively a third dimension — is used to boost the capacity of objects the same size.

“Our determination to develop advanced technologies underlines our commitment to respond to continued demand [for] flash memory,” Toshiba senior vice president Yasuo Naruke said in a statement

SanDisk president and chief executive Sanjay Mehrotra said the plant “will advance our leadership in memory technology into the 3D ... era.”

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