Sandisk, Toshiba considering fab expansion

Dec. 20, 2002 – Sunnyvale, CA – Sandisk and Toshiba are planning a substantial increase in memory production at their Flashvision joint venture from 2003. They are also considering the construction of a new fabrication plant to handle an anticipated increase in demand in the second half of this decade, the companies have announced.

The two companies formed Flashvision in 2001 to take over their production of flash memory chips, and the company is currently using a 200mm (8-inch) wafer production line at Toshiba’s Yokkaichi plant in Japan.

NewsEdge Corp. reports that the companies are also considering the construction of a new semiconductor fabrication plant that will handle 300mm (12-inch) wafers using an even finer process technology such as 90nm or below. Sandisk said discussions are focusing on construction beginning within the coming year so the plant can begin initial operation in 2006. This will enable the companies to handle anticipated demand to the end of the current decade.

At present, the Yokkaichi fab output is 70,000 wafers per month. This will be increased to 100,000 wafers per month of all types of memory, including flash, SRAM and NOR flash, said Kenichi Sugiyama, a spokesman for Tokyo’s Toshiba.

While the capacity expansion at Yokkaichi can be financed out of the company’s existing cash, a new wafer plant would require investment from 2004 through 2008 and necessitate additional sources of funding, Sandisk said. The company did not put a price tag on the project, but general industry estimates for such a plant reach $2 billion or more.

A decision on the 300mm plant is expected to be made with Toshiba some time in 2003, Sandisk said. Toshiba’s Sugiyama declined to comment on a time frame for the discussions, saying that they are at the preliminary stages and it is too early to comment on them.


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