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64-megabit DRAM on the rise

A joint venture involving Siemens and Taiwan-based Mosel Vitelic will begin producing next-generation memory chips by December.

A joint venture involving Siemens Semiconductors and Taiwan-based Mosel Vitelic announced it will begin producing next-generation, 64-megabit memory chips by December.

The two companies said ProMos Technologies will produce 20,000 8-inch DRAM (dynamic random access memory) wafers per month when its Hsinchu, Taiwan, plant reaches full capacity by the end of the year. Each wafer contains hundreds of the 64-megabit DRAM chips that go to market.

Present in every computer, memory chips are integrated into small circuit boards called modules. Today's standard memory comes in 16-megabit chips, but leading manufacturers like Samsung and NEC have been moving toward the 64-megabit chip, which can pack four times as much data in the same size chip package. New modules containing 64-megabit memory chips would allow PCs that currently come with 16 megabytes (MB) of memory to pack 64MB into the same space.

Chips produced at the ProMos facility will initially be manufactured using 0.35 micron technology, but the plant will convert the more advanced 0.25 micron process in 1998. The smaller measurement means the chips can be packed more closely together on the wafer, which produces a higher yield.

64-megabit chips will be widely adopted by manufacturers beginning in 1998, particularly in servers, workstations, and notebook PCs. Desktop PCs, often built more economically, will follow later.

Neither Mosel Vitel nor Siemens have ranked among the world's ten largest memory manufacturers in terms of revenue, according to a Semico Research report on DRAM sales in 1996, but Siemens is apparently making a market push. Siemens will also manufacture 64-megabit DRAMs in Great Britain, Germany, and the U.S., according to a prepared statement.

Siemens and Mosel Vitelic 64-megabit chips will be priced at $35 per chip in quantities of 1,000 when they become available.