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Toshiba, SanDisk to boost spending on flash fab

Posted: 13 Feb 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Yoshiko Hara? Mark LaPedus?

In an effort to keep up with huge demand for its NAND flash-memory devices, SanDisk Corp. and Toshiba Corp. disclosed last week (Feb. 8) that they plan to boost the investment and production levels of its 300mm fab venture in Japan. The investment could run as high as $2 billion.

The plant, dubbed Fab 3, is a joint flash-memory venture between SanDisk and Toshiba in Yokkaichi. Under the new plan, the companies said that they expect to boost the fab capacity from the previously planned 48,750 wafers per month to 70,000 wafers per month by March 2007.

Toshiba said it would raise the total investment on semiconductors for this fiscal year ending March to $2.4 billion, adding by about $531 million. About $500 million will be spend on its Yokkaichi Fab 3 to expand the fab capacity.

The incremental investment by SanDisk for 50 percent of this higher Fab 3 output is currently estimated at approximately $500 million over the next 12 months. SanDisk's total expected 2006 investment in Fab 3 is approximately $1 billion, of which a portion is anticipated to be financed through operating lease financing or other sources of capital.

Along with the volume expansion, the investments will be used to accelerate the process technology cycle in the fab. At present, Fab 3 is fabricating NAND memory using a 90nm processes. Toshiba plans to introduce the 70nm process to the 300mm line this month and then plans to introduce the 52nm process by March 2007.

"We expect this significant acceleration in production output will further reduce our costs and provide substantial new captive capacity to meet the anticipated growth in demand from new markets such as cellphones and MP3 players, and enable us to better address geographies where we believe we have attractive opportunities to expand our market presence," said Eli Harari, president and CEO of SanDisk, in a statement.

- Yoshiko Hara and Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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