SAN FRANCISCO -- In a move to keep up in the IC technology race, Intel Corp. plans to soon announce its 90-nm (0.09-micron) process for use in high-speed microprocessors, flash memories, and other chips, said company executives at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) here.
Intel's move will follow similar announcements of 90-nm process technology by other chip manufacturers in recent months, including Motorola Inc., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC), and Texas Instruments Inc.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip giant did not provide any details about its 90-nm technology during briefings on Tuesday, but industry analysts expect the next-generation process to have modules similar to the company's current 130-nm (0.13-micron) node, including copper interconnects and low-k dielectrics.
Some Intel observers believe the company is already running test wafers based on an early prototype of the 90-nm process, dubbed "862" or "1262" inside Intel R&D labs. The 862 process is a 90-nm technology based on 200-mm (eight-inch) wafers, while 1262 is build around the company's new 300-mm (12-inch) frontend lines.
But Intel did provide a brief sneak preview of its technology roadmap. The world's largest chip maker plans to develop 90-nm processors and other logic chips for volume production sometime in 2003, followed by 90-nm flash memories in early 2004, said Stefan Lai, vice president and co-director of the California Technology and Manufacturing Center for Intel.
Much like the roadmap for its current 130-nm technology, Intel plans to ramp up its 90-nm process for logic chips about a year ahead of its flash-memory lines, Lai said.
Lai declined to comment about the specific timeframe for processor production in the next-generation technology, but he said Intel will most likely begin ramping up initial production of 90-nm flash chips in September of 2003, with volume slated "a few months later." Initial 90-nm flash products include chips based on the company's multi-level cell and multi-bit technologies, he said.
Intel--the world's largest supplier of flash memories--intends to scale its NOR-based chip designs at least until the 65-nm (0.065-micron) node and perhaps the 40-nm node as well, Lai said.