TOKYO--The DRAM joint venture between NEC Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. today branded itself as Elpida Memory Inc. The two Japanese chip giants also announced that the joint venture has completed development of its first product using 0.13-micron design rules to create a 256-megabit memory in half the die size of today's 0.18-micron DRAMs.
Late last year, NEC and Hitachi announced plans to form the DRAM venture, which was initially called NEC-Hitachi Memory Inc. (see Nov. 29, 1999, story). Now called Elpida Memory, the 50-50 venture today said it plans to begin shipping samples of the 0.13-micron, 256-Mbit DRAM in the first quarter of 2001. Volume production will begin to ramp several months later in the spring, and by December 2001, Elpida expects to be fabricating five million 256-Mbit chips per month using the 0.13-micron design.
The partners said they picked Elpida as the venture's brand name to emphasize a "passion for excellence in innovation and dependability." The brand name plays off the ancient Greek word "elpis," which means expectation, said the two Japanese partners.
According to NEC and Hitachi, the venture's new memory chip will be available as both a synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) and as a double data rate (DDR) SDRAM. Elpida officials said the new 0.13-micron DRAMs have been developed to achieve low-metal resistance for high-speed operation, and the chips employ an advanced hemispherical grain (HSG) structure for compact memory cells.
Elpida said it is also developing other higher density SDRAM and DDR chips as well as other memories based on the high-bandwidth format from Rambus Inc. and new Virtual Channel Memory products. The company primarily aims to serve high-end PCs, workstations, and communication systems.
The joint venture said it now employs 200 workers worldwide and is expected to have a staff of 750 by April 2001, drawing from both NEC and Hitachi. Elpida's main DRAM production centers are located at NEC's complex in Hiroshima, Japan, and Hitachi Nippon Steel Semiconductor in Singapore.
"Elpida Memory brings together the best memory technology and worldwide, first-class engineering resources from both NEC and Hitachi that provide better economies of scale for more rapid and efficient development and global production," said Kenji Tokuyama, president of Tokyo-based Elpida Memory.