The first semiconductor wafers produced by Fujitsu and Toshiba using a next-generation production technology have begun rolling off trial production lines at factories in and near Tokyo.
Fujitsu showed some trial wafers at a company event held in Tokyo last week and confirmed the wafers are produced using a 65-nanometer production technology on a trial line at its Akiruno Technology Center in western Tokyo. Its 65-nanometer technology is still in the development stage and it has not yet reached the level where Fujitsu can evaluate chips built using the technology or supply samples to customers, said Amy Ishida, a company spokeswoman.
Toshiba is slightly further along in the development of the technology and is currently evaluating early 65-nanometer samples, said Junichi Nagaki, a company spokesman. Toshiba is using a pilot line at a facility in Yokohama to produce the chips.
One of the first uses for Toshiba's technology will be the production of the Cell processor, which will be used in Sony Computer Entertainment's (SCEI) upcoming PlayStation 3 games console and future consumer electronics products from other companies. In this area Toshiba is working with SCEI, Sony and IBM on technology development. Mass production is scheduled for the first half of 2005, said Nagaki.
Today's most advanced semiconductors are produced using a 90-nanometer process. The measurement refers to the size of the smallest track or gap width that can be made on the chip's surface. Sixty-five nanometers is about a thousandth the width of a human hair.
A smaller number means semiconductors can be made physically smaller, because everything can be made to take up less space, or made more powerful, because more can be crammed into a given space. For this reason, progress in manufacturing technology is a vital part of realizing faster, smaller and cheaper chips and ultimately the products in which they are used.