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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