November 22, 2006 – Saifun Semiconductors Ltd. has extended its partnership with Chinese foundry SMIC to make 8Gbit data flash using advanced process technology, with devices ready for market by 2008.
For SMIC, the move to 8bit flash is an effort to move into the consumer electronics market both in China and worldwide. The foundry expects to ramp to mass production of a 2Gbit NAND flash version based on Saifun’s NROM by year’s end. In early 2006 SMIC had clarified that it would use Saifun’s NROM technology for manufacturing flash memory cards, to help fill its logic fabs and complement its DRAM output.
Saifun says its four-bit-per-cell NROM technology doubles the storage capacity of conventional memory cells, with a simpler architecture requiring fewer manufacturing steps and lower manufacturing costs.
“We believe that the combination of the innovation and dedication of SMIC with Saifun’s unique NROM technology positions both companies very well to become significant players in the very lucrative data market,” said Boaz Eitan, chairman and CEO of Saifun, in a statement.
The deepening of Saifun’s business with SMIC comes after recent bad news from another significant customer. Last month Qimonda AG, former memory chip unit of Infineon Technologies AG and a “significant customer,” said it would ramp down its current nitride read-only memory (NROM)-related activity, continuing to license Saifun’s NROM technology only on a limited basis under an amended license agreement, but generating no license or service fees for Saifun after 4Q06.