IBM, Toshiba Up Partnership On Next-Generation Chips - InformationWeek

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IBM, Toshiba Up Partnership On Next-Generation Chips

The companies have been working on technologies related to chips that would be built using a 32-nanometer manufacturing process.

IBM and Toshiba on Tuesday said they've expanded their joint development agreement to include work on integrated circuits for next-generation microprocessors.

The companies have been working together on various technologies related to chips that would be built using a 32-nanometer manufacturing process. Those chips, which won't be released until the 2009-2010 time frame, are expected to be more powerful than even the 45-nm chips just hitting the market today. The 32-nm chips would consume about the same amount of electricity.

In the latest deal, Toshiba has agreed to join a six-company IBM alliance working on 32-nm bulk complementary metal-oxide semiconductor process technology. CMOS is a major class of integrated circuits used in microprocessors, microcontrollers, memory, and other areas. The alliance works out of IBM's research facilities in Yorktown and Albany, N.Y.

"This is a promising collaboration," Shozo Saito, president and CEO of Toshiba's semiconductor company, said of the partnership. Besides the work with IBM, Toshiba also plans to continue with its own research in 32-nm production, Saito said in a statement.

The IBM alliance last week announced that it had developed a heat-resistant manufacturing process that makes it possible to develop 32-nm chips without dramatic modifications in current chip fabrication plants. Keeping current manufacturing steps the same is important to avoid the huge costs associated with changing the process.

IBM's partners include Advanced Micro Devices, a major rival to the world's largest chipmaker, Intel. The latter company also is developing 32-nm chips that it plans to deliver in the same time frame as the alliance.

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