Mitsubishi Electric and SGS-Thomson Microelectronics announced Wednesday an extension to their partnership in flash memories aimed at the development of a new generation of chips starting with multilevel 64-megabit storage densities.
In afternoon trading, SGS-Thomson STM was up 5 1/8 to 75 1/4.
Mitsubishi Electric and SGS-Thomson said their development work will be applied to both divided bit-line NOR (DINOR) and NOR flash-memory architectures as well as 0.20- to 0.18-micron process technologies. SGS-Thomson and Mitsubishi began collaborating in flash memories in 1993.
"By extending our cooperation, we will dramatically accelerate the development of 64-Mbit multilevel products and create products of even greater interest to the market in a timely fashion," said Katsumi Suizu, general manager of Mitsubishi Electric's memory IC division. "Through the joint development of these products, we will launch 64-Mbit memories in volume during 1999."
Europe's SGS-Thomson and Japan's Mitsubishi said they intend to create a common portfolio of flash-memory products through a global marketing effort. Products resulting from the extended joint-development effort will be used primarily in portable applications, such as handheld computers, PDAs
, and interactive set-top boxes, according to the two companies.
Overall, SGS-Thomson and Mitsubishi said they believe the flash chip market will grow to more than $6 billion in revenues in 2001 compared with $2.6 billion in 1996.
The partners also said they predicted the high-density flash technology will open up new opportunities in embedded applications, such as a new generation of consumer products that integrate set- top boxes, DVD
, games, and Internet terminal features in the same application under the control of a standard operating system; global positioning by satellite (GPS
) systems for the automotive market; and industrial control systems.
"Electronic products are becoming ever more digital, and the semiconductor solutions will migrate toward using high-density memories closely coupled to powerful microprocessors with the applications implemented in software," said Ennio Filauro, corporate vice president and memory-division general manager of SGS-Thomson. "In this context, flash memory will be used to store both code and data with random access. We believe the demand for these very high-density flash memories will grow to more than $1 billion by 2001."