Infineon Technologies A.G. last week said it is entering the flash memory market and forming a new company with Saifun Semiconductor Ltd. to produce flash chips using Infineon's 200mm-wafer fab in Dresden, Germany.
The new company, Infineon Technologies Flash GmbH, will be based in Dresden and is expected to start production in the second half of this year. Infineon said the flash chips will be made using existing 200mm-wafer equipment.
Infineon is following the path of other chipmakers, such as AMD, Intel, and Samsung Electronics, which have converted older fabs to flash memory production after shifting other products to new manufacturing lines.
For more than a year, Infineon has been moving DRAM mass production to a 300mm-wafer fab in Dresden that can make two-and-a-half times as many die per wafer as the 200mm facility.
Infineon's flash chips will be based on Saifun's nitrided ROM (NROM) technology, which can be used for both data content and code storage. Typically, serial NAND flash has been used to store data, while program code is warehoused using NOR-based flash memory chips.
Infineon Technologies Flash will be jointly managed by Infineon's Peter Kucher, who has been responsible for the company's 300mm fab development and production, and Ramy Langer, former vice president of marketing and sales at Israeli IC foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd.
Infineon said the new company will soon launch an R&D center in Dresden to develop new products.
The collaboration with Saifun is the follow-on to an earlier joint venture between the companies, called Ingentix.
Using physical bits as opposed to different electrical states, NROM is able to store four memory bits per cell, effectively doubling the capacity of multilevel-cell storage techniques like those offered by Intel Corp.'s StrataFlash and Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s MirrorBit technologies.
Saifun, Netanya, Israel, in August formed a technology alliance with AMD and Fujitsu Ltd., each of which took an undisclosed equity stake in Saifun and licensed its NROM technology. In return, the companies will collaborate on a 4-bit-per-cell flash architecture to support 512Mbit-to-4Gbit flash chips for data storage in 3G cell phones. AMD is targeting a market release of mid-2004.