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It was a matter of time before NEC Electronics and Toshiba Corp. join a large semiconductor alliance to cut manufacturing technologies development cost. On Thursday the companies said that they would join IBM’s bulk process alliance to develop 28nm fabrication process with high-k metal gate (HKMG) dielectrics.

“This alliance brings together industry leaders in advanced process technology. "The program supports our efforts to maximize R&D efficiency,” said Mr. Masakazu Kakumu, corporate vice president of Toshiba Corporation and vice president of Toshiba semiconductor company's system LSI Division.

The 28nm alliance builds on the success of earlier joint development work in 32nm HKMG technology. Clients can transition to 28nm technology without the need for a major redesign, with lower risk, reduced cost and faster time-to-market.  Internal test results have shown the power-efficient advantages of HKMG and device performance that meets or exceeds competitive targets.

“The advanced 28nm low-power process technology will dramatically enhance the product's density, performance, as well as power consumption compared to the former 40nm node, providing highly competitive solutions, especially in the fields of consumer electronics and automotive. Utilizing this process technology with NEC Electronics' proprietary eDRAM, high-reliability, and low-power consumption technologies, we will focus on being the first to market with the SoC products that can meet our customers' expectations with added value,” said Masao Fukuma, senior vice president of NEC Electronics.

Toshiba and NEC jointly developed their 32nm and 45nm process technologies. In early 2006, IBM, Sony and Toshiba agreed to develop 32nm process technology. However, in 2007 Sony decided to withdraw from further development of fabrication processes as well as manufacturing of advanced chips. As a result, NEC Electronics and Toshiba had to develop 32nm fabrication process without the third partner, which might prove to be economically inefficiently.

The alliance, based at IBM's facility in East Fishkill, New York, now includes Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Globalfoundries, Infineon Technologies, NEC Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics, and Toshiba. Toshiba joined the IBM bulk semiconductor process technology development alliance in December 2007 and NEC Electronics joined in September 2008.

Earlier this year NEC Electronics and Renesas, a joint venture between Hitachi and Mitsubishi Electric, agreed to enter into negotiations to integrate business operations at NEC Electronics and Renesas. The deal is set to be completed by the end of July. Moreover, in January '09 rumours emerged that Toshiba and NEC Electronics may also create a semiconductor joint-venture.

“NEC Electronics and Toshiba bring significant skills and resources that will help ensure development of an industry-leading 28nm technology offering. Together, the alliance partners will deliver a high-performance, energy efficient technology to enable a full range of multifunction, power-sensitive mobile and consumer electronics,” said Gary Patton, vice president for IBM's semiconductor research and development center.

Tags: NEC, Toshiba, 28nm, IBM, Semiconductor

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