Santa Clara (CA) - IM Flash Technologies, a joint venture between Intel and Micron, today announced that it will break ground on a fourth flash manufacturing facility in the first half of next year. The factory will initially focus on producing 50 nm flash memory chips from 300 mm wafers.
Intel and Micron are accelerating their flash memory efforts in an increasingly competitive and challenging business environment for flash memory products. IM Flash is trailing the top manufacturers in the NAND Flash segment, which, according to market research firm Isuppli, is dominated by Samsung with 46.4% market share, Toshiba with 24.7% and Hynix with 18.5%. Intel and Micron today said that they will add to their existing flash fabs in Manassas, Virginia and Boise, Idaho, as well as a currently constructed fab in Lehi, Utah, a facility in Singapore.
The new factory, scheduled to go online in the second half of 2008, will initially use a 50nm process technology on 300 mm wafers. According to the two companies, 4 Gb 50 nm devices are currently sampling from existing fabs at this time.
"We are quite pleased with the progress IM Flash Technologies has made in a very short period of time positioning us for future growth in the NAND marketplace," said Brian Harrison, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Flash Memory Group. "By executing to our strategy of ramping one 300 mm fab per year, we fully expect to become one of the top manufacturers of NAND flash memory," the executive was quoted in a prepared statement.
However, the competition is not standing still. Especially Samsung appears to be driving its flash division at an ever accelerating pace. In April of this year, the company began with the production of 70 nm flash chips, first 60 nm (8 Gb) devices were announced in June of this year and went into mass production not quite two months later. In September, Samsung confirmed that it had developed the first 40 nm flash chip and a new manufacturing technology that will allow the company to scale flash memory down to 20 nm. 40 nm (32 Gb) flash chips are expected to result in memory cards with a capacity of 64 GB, while 20 nm devices could reach up to 512 GB.