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Toshiba, SanDisk fast-forward flash facility

Escalating demand for NAND flash memory has prompted Toshiba and SanDisk to move the completion of a jointly developed fabrication facility exclusively for flash memory from 2006 to 2005, the companies said Wednesday. NAND flash chips are used inside memory cards, digital cameras and MP3 players to store data. Because of the growth in consumer electronics, NAND (which stands for "Not And"--a reference to how the chip functions) is growing faster than NOR flash, which is used to store software code.

The Yokkaichi, Japan, facility will cost approximately $1.9 billion and process 300-millimeter wafers. These wafers contain more surface area than that of traditional 200-millimeter wafers; more chips can be produced simultaneously. The facility is expected to be capable of processing 10,000 wafers a month, a figure that should increase over time.