July 2, 2007 – Chinese flagship foundry SMIC is transferring IP and “know-how” of 90nm process technologies to Israeli development partner Saifun Semiconductors Ltd., as the two firms get ready to launch 90nm-based 2GB NAND flash products later this year.
Shipments of 2GB NAND devices (using Saifun’s NROM technology) on SMIC’s 90nm process are now shipping, with products expected to be available on the market later this year, they companies said. An 8GB-density version using Saifun’s quad NROM (four bits per cell) technology will follow with availability sometime in 2008.
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. Last November they said they would up the ante to 8GB devices, due in 2008. (A report in October by the Taiwan Economic News had predicted an earlier ramp of 90nm 2GB mass production at SMIC’s Shanghai site, by 1Q07.)
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. Both partners say their work pushing high-density NAND flash memory will help develop broader applications using Saifun’s quad NROM technology.
“We see great potential with NROM technology,” said SMIC CEO Richard Chang, in a statement. “The development of the first NAND product is just the beginning of the successful cooperation with Saifun,” he added, and “further cements our partnership to penetrate the NAND flash market.”
“This agreement marks an important milestone in our relationship with SMIC as they launch their first product to the very challenging Data, or NAND, market, based on our NROM technology,” stated Boaz Eitan, chairman/CEO of Saifun, adding that the deal will help Saifun expand its IP portfolio of process technology for its licensees. “The combination of Saifun NROM technology and SMIC technical expertise and manufacturing capabilities place both companies in an excellent position to offer the best cost performance products to the market,” he added.