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Toshiba Moving to 3D Memory with New Factory

The completion of a new factory in western Japan will undoubtedly kick-start Toshiba's plans to mass produce a new generation of memory chips sometime in 2011. This will be the fifth factory in its overall manufacturing kingdom residing in Yokkaichi, and will initially produce conventional NAND flash chips. However Toshiba said that it will take the factory into new territory by developing new types of 3D memory.

Don't left the label fool you: 3D memory doesn't mean "holographic" or something that requires special glasses (a recent trend that has now even entered into Playboy territory). Rather, the company plans to build vertically as well as horizontally. The new 3D approach is an answer to fears that packing components together horizontally will eventually reach a limit. Electrical interference also becomes a factor, growing worse as technology advances and nanometers grow smaller.

But 3D manufacturing won't come for a while. During a Tokyo news conference, Toshiba president and CEO Norio Sasaki said that the company won't start construction of the facility until July--first phase production of its 20nm NAND memory won't begin until Spring 2011. The first production line capable of producing 3D chips will launch sometime after that, however Sasaki wasn't more specific.

Both SanDisk and Toshiba have been working together on 3D memory chips since 2008 with the anticipation that the new factory would be capable of bringing the technology to fruition. The factory is also part of Toshiba's push to achieve an 8-percent annual growth in its semiconductor business over the next three years.