All Chips Great and Small for AMD

AMD is approaching the semiconductor industry from
both sides of the spectrum.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm inked a deal Tuesday with Chartered
Semiconductor Manufacturing out of Singapore to
augment its production of 64-bit chips. The partnership means that
AMD will have two facilities now making its Opteron and Athlon64
processors.

Under the contract, Chartered will license portions of AMD’s
Automated Precision Manufacturing (APM) software suite and will begin
integrating it into Fab 7, its 300mm wafer fabrication facility in
Singapore before the end of the year. The Chartered-made chips should
start coming off the assembly line in 2006.

AMD’s APM suite is made up of more than 300 technologies that serve as a
fab’s “central nervous system” and let the company make its
semiconductors faster while wasting less silicon.

Gary Heerssen, senior vice president with AMD’s Manufacturing Group,
said the company’s plans for AMD Fab 36 in Dresden, Germany, which is
currently under construction, remain unchanged.

“We intend it to be our benchmark facility for the manufacture of
AMD64 products,” he said in a statement.

Earlier in the week, AMD’ Spansion subsidiary laid out its three-year
vision and strategic road map, which includes shrinking its MirrorBit
technology to 8 gigabit densities on 65-nanometer lithography.
The company also announced plans to develop a
new “ORNAND” Flash memory architecture that brings together the best of
NOR code execution and NAND data storage capabilities in a single
product based on MirrorBit technology.

NOR Flash (as in “not, or”) is used in about 15 different memory
applications usually for PCs and other desktop hardware. The other
kind — NAND Flash (as in “not, and”) — is used in 40 assorted Flash
card applications such as storing music, video and other data.

The first ORNAND products are expected in 2005
with burst-write speeds up to four times faster than current NAND
products, AMD said.

By 2007, Spansion said it plans to offer a full
portfolio of ORNAND products scaling to 8-gigabit densities. As a
result, Spansion expects MirrorBit technology to serve the anticipated
$8.9 billion per year data storage market previously served primarily by
floating-gate, NAND-type products.

“Now that Spansion has been able to solve some of the inherent
scaling and performance problems with nitride-based technology, its new
ORNAND architecture is truly a breakthrough,” Alan Niebel, CEO and
founder of semiconductor market analysis firm Web-Feet Research said.
“Being able to add additional features and performance to high-density
Flash while reducing cost will help secure Spansion’s success in the
removable data storage market.”

AMD said MirrorBit technology is ideally suited for new applications
beyond traditional memory and may be able to create new types of memory
solutions that incorporate logic functions like high-security
cryptographic processors or integrated memory controllers.

The company has also demonstrated MirrorBit technology’s ability to
quadruple densities with a working proof-of-concept “QuadBit” test chip
in its state-of-the-art Submicron Development Center. In addition,
Spansion said this week it has a working test chip prototype based on
65-nanometer MirrorBit technology.

One of the areas Spansion has been applying its technology to is the
mobile phone market. The company expects that Flash memory requirements
for mainstream phones will jump from about 150 megabits per phone in
2004 to more than 500Mbps in 2007. High-end phones require even more
Flash memory, from about 750Mbps today to an estimated 5 gigabits
and beyond in 2007.

To beat designers to the punch, the company said it has a new family
of Flash memory devices that will simplify designs courtesy of a single
Flash memory platform capable of delivering combined code and data
storage from 16Mbps to 5Gb.

Based on the density-doubling MirrorBit technology, the forthcoming
“RS family” of devices will start with an initial 1.8-volt, 512Mbps
product planned for early 2005.

News Around the Web