SAN JOSE, Calif. IBM Corp. and Hitachi, Ltd. announce today (March 10) their first ever collaboration on semiconductor technology. The companies have kicked off a two-year agreement jointly to pursue metrology for 32nm and smaller devices.
IBM and Hitachi will "use new methods to analyze semiconductor devices and structures in order to improve the characterization and measurement of transistor variation," according to a joint statement. Engineers from the two companies and Hitachi's subsidiary, Hitachi High-Technologies, will collaborate at IBM's Thomas J. Watson center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. and at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany.
"By combining individual research strength and intellectual property we reduce the significant costs associated with research needed to advance the next generation of chip technology," said Bernie Meyerson, vice president of strategic alliances and CTO for IBM's Systems & Technology Group in a prepared statement.
IBM has already gathered as many as nine partners around its so-called Common Platform alliance, a collaborative effort to define next-generation chip making technology. Its current partners include AMD, Chartered, Freescale, Infineon, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba and STMicroelectronics,
In an interview late last year, Xilinx chairman Wim Roelandts predicted more companies will join semiconductor alliances to share the soaring costs of process development. Japan's big chip makers, in particular, need to find partners, Roelandts said.
So far the IBM/Hitachi deal is limited to research in metrology. IBM would not comment on the possibility the collaboration might lead to Hitachi joining the Common Platform group or describe specific milestones for the joint work.
"IBM and its partners routinely endeavor to push back the limits of technology, but as such we cannot share exact goals [of the Hitachi deal] without giving away competitive advantage," said Meyerson in an email exchange.
"Our two companies have a long history of successful business collaboration and we look forward to extending this to include the semiconductor metrology research arena." said Eiji Takeda, general manager of research and development at Hitachi, in a prepared statement.
The two companies currently work together on computer servers and other products. Hitachi reported revenues of $86.8 billion in its latest fiscal year.