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March 18, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

With two Japanese parts already in the works, there’s not much point in the proposed US Sematech chip research consortium setting out to design and fabricate a 16M-bit memory chip – and it’s doubtful if even a 64M is a big enough jump to leap-frog Japan Inc. Microbytes reports that Nippon Telegraph & Telephone has announced that it is already at work on a 64M-bit dynamic. NTT president Hishashi Shinto says the company is spending about $300m to build two laboratories where research on the 64-megabit chip will take place – and that the labs will house a research team working on chips with a capacity of 256M-bits or more. Commenting on the claims, engineers at Texas Instruments told the news wire that that to build a 64M-bit part, NTT would have to overcome a wall of natural physical limitations, noting that on a 1M chip, transistors are no further apart than 1 micron and that there was a natural limit at between three or four tenths of a micron, the distance that would separate features on a 64M-bit dynamic. NTT’s Shinto acknowledged it might be three years before the market sees the final 16M-bit chip. Whatever parts it perfects will be passed to other Japanese manufacturers for fabrication because NTT has no manufacturing of its own.

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