TOKYO Toshiba Corp. and SanDisk Corp. plan to open a new 300-mm flash memory fab as early as June, several months ahead of scheduled.
Ground was broken for the new facility at Toshiba's Yokkaichi operations last April. "Toshiba and SanDisk will invest a total of ¥270 billion (about $2.6 billion) on Fab 3, and it will be the strategic NAND production base with a capacity of 40,000 wafers a month," said Tadashi Okamura, Toshiba's Toshiba.
"At a time when so many Japanese companies are moving their manufacturing operations outside of Japan, Toshiba and SanDisk are making a very large-scale investment right here in Yokkaichi," said Eli Harari, SanDisk's president CEO.
The fab will begin operations with a capacity of 2,500 wafers a month, producing 4-Gbit flash memories using a 90- nm process as the startup product. Capacity will be ramped up quickly to 10,000 wafers a month by the end of 2005.
Toshiba and SanDisk plan to expand capacity to 40,000 wafers a month in the first half of 2007. The fab will have space for further expansion.
Through 2008, Toshiba expects the NAND market will grow 132 percent annually, driven by new applications for digital consumer products and mobile phones.
The partners plan to begin producing this summer 8-Gbit flash memories using a 70-nm process presented at this year's International Solid-State Circuits Conference. They will be produced on existing 200-mm wafer lines in Yokkaichi. The new 300-mm wafer fab is also scheduled to migrate to the 70-nm process early 2006 and to a 55-nm process in fall 2006.