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IBM and Samsung initiate new 20nm research scheme

IBM and Samsung are to collaborate on research into new semiconductor materials and manufacturing processes at the 20nm scale and beyond.Samsung researchers will for the first time pool basic research with IBM into an assortment of 20nm semiconductor technologies including three-dimensional stacking, low-power methods and new materials, an IBM spokesman told ZDNet UK on Thursday.
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Written by Jack Clark, Reporter on

IBM and Samsung are to collaborate on research into new semiconductor materials and manufacturing processes at the 20nm scale and beyond.

Samsung researchers will for the first time pool basic research with IBM into an assortment of 20nm semiconductor technologies including three-dimensional stacking, low-power methods and new materials, an IBM spokesman told ZDNet UK on Thursday.

The deal, announced Wednesday, extends a partnership which has existed since the two companies worked together on 90nm semiconductor research, Samsung's vice president for US foundry activities, Ana Hunter, told ZDNet UK on Thursday. The scheme will see Samsung and IBM researchers work alongside at the Albany NanoTech Complex.

"For [Samsung] it's about getting a lead in logic chips for next-gen consumer technology," an IBM spokesman told ZDNet UK.

Samsung is strong in flash technology. In April it unveiled 20nm-class Nand flash memory chips, placing it ahead of rivals IM Flash Technologies — a joint venture between Micron Technology and Intel — who moved to a 25nm process in February and Toshiba, which is currently moving to a sub-30nm process.

Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Complex technology

"The technology is very complex and so is the amount of R&D and the expense of R&D is growing at a very fast pace in these nodes," Hunter said. The partnership is "a way of reducing risk, getting synergy and expanding our team to include researchers that are available in Albany," she said.

"We plan to be offering 20nm in the late 2012 timeframe," Hunter said. "The next node coming after that is probably 14nm and teams are working hard on that one."

Samsung has the rights to use technology that comes from the joint research and to commercialise it, Hunter said.

Samsung and IBM work together as part of a consortium of companies, including Chartered, GlobalFoundries, Infineon and STMicroelectronics.

Major chip manufacturer GlobalFoundries has been working with IBM on 20nm technological development since 2009, a GlobalFoundries spokesman told ZDNet UK on Friday.

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