Toshiba hastens NAND production

New 56-nanometer production means chips can be made smaller, cheaper and will use less power

Toshiba Corp. is expanding production of NAND flash memory chips faster than originally planned, the company said Monday.

The company is one of the world's largest producers of flash memory chips, which are used in a wide range of consumer electronics products including digital still cameras, music players, cell phones and memory cards.

At present most of Toshiba's production in its number-three chip factory is done on a manufacturing line that can make chips with features as small as 70 nanometers but in January the company began using a more advanced 56-nanometer production process. The 56-nanometer technology means chips can be made physically smaller so more fit on a wafer and made more efficient. This means the resulting chips are cheaper and use less power.

Toshiba had planned to increase 56-nanometer production so it equalled half of the company's 135,000 wafer per month output by the end of this year but now Toshiba is planning to meet that point in September.

The faster-than-anticipated switch to new production should make Toshiba's NAND flash more competitive on the global market.

The Tokyo company also said it plans to re-equip its number-four chip fabrication facility to handle 56-nanometer production. The new building will have a clean-room production area about 40 percent bigger than the number-three factory.