IBM, Chartered, Infineon and Samsung sample 45 nm silicon

East Fishkill (NY) - IBM, Chartered, Infineon and Samsung have developed their first 45 nm "silicon-functional circuits" and announced that the technology would be available in "design kits" for "select customers." The four companies follow Intel, which was first to demonstrate a 45 nm SRAM device in January of this year.

The announcement did not specify the exact nature of the device, but indicated that the design kits could pave the way to 45 nm products to be developed by partners of IBM, Chartered, Infineon and Samsung. There were very few details available, but according to Infineon, there are "various kinds" of standard library cells and I/O elements with different transistor flavors, such as threshold voltages, and varying metal loads" included in the circuits. The company also provided "special circuitry (...) to debug the complex process and to gain experience in product architecture interactions."

The cooperation between the four companies is yet another sign of quickly rising cost for semiconductor research and development, which forces most chip manufacturers into collaboration efforts to make the economics work. According to a press release distributed by IBM, Chartered, Infineon and Samsung, the joint-development of 45 nm technology may "facilitate [an] earlier transition to the new process" and enable "multi-fab manufacturing capability for maximum design leverage" by using a single design approach. The companies expect their 45 nm process to be installed and fully qualified at Chartered, IBM and Samsung 300 mm fabs by the end of 2007. Mass production is scheduled to begin sometime in 2008.

Intel was first to demonstrate a 45 nm device in January of this year. The firm's 45 nm SRAM cell was announced with a capacity of 153 Mbit and more than 1 billion transistors.