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SanDisk, Toshiba Partner for Flash Production

Flash MemoryHawksM23 July 2010

Although their competitors have largely avoided any new investments into flash fabricator production facilities, SanDisk Corp and Toshiba Corp. think otherwise. The two powerhouses have announced construction on a new NAND flash chip fabrication facility at Toshiba’s Yokkaichi City plant in Japan.

Referred to as “Fab 5,” the facility will be able to produce 210,000 NAND wafers a month when in full production. The name is derived from an existing partner facility, “Fab 4,” and will be comparable in size – Fab 4 has a ground area of about 125,000 square feet and a total floor space of 613,517 square feet. The first phase of the two-phase process is scheduled to be complete next spring; the facility will employ about 4,300 people, including 250 engineers. This will be the fifth flash memory fabrication facility for in Yokkaichi City for Toshiba.

Demand for the NAND flash chips has been on the rise, with prices recently leveling off, but the sheer investment cost of constructing fabrication plants – in the hundreds of millions – has kept most companies, including Samsung and Micron, static in the market.

Toshiba, on the other hand, has jumped head first into production, believing that the demand is poised to increase based on the rise existing and emerging applications in smartphones and solid-state drives using flash.

“With our partner SanDisk, we will increase the manufacturing capacity gradually in accordance with market conditions, in a way that further enhances our competitiveness in the memory business,” said Koyoshi Kobayashi, a Toshiba corporate senior vice president.

The plant will initially use Toshiba’s 20-nanometer lithography technology – the company’s smallest – which will allow the company to fit more data on a single NAND chip.

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