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UMC produces first 45nm SRAM

A posse of companies is getting ready to mass produce 45-nanometre processors

Taiwanese supplier UMC says it has successfully produced functional 45-nanometre SRAM chips for the first time. The move maintains UMC's momentum in the market for 45nm chips, in which Texas Instruments, Intel and IBM also feature strongly.

UMC, the second largest supplier of integrated circuits in the world, says the new chips use its own logic process with immersion lithography for its 12 layers.

Immersion lithography is used to enhance resolution by putting a liquid medium between the scanner optics and the wafer surface, instead of an air gap. Since the immersion fluid has a higher refractive index than air, lenses with a higher numerical aperture can be used. The result is more accurate patterns imprinted on the silicon wafer, the company said.

Dr Shih-Wei Sun, vice president of UMC's Central research and development operations, said: "The 45nm node is a challenging technology generation that simultaneously introduces new materials and process modules. We [have been] encouraged by the successful results realised for the initial 45nm wafer lots."

These 45nm SRAM processors will supercede today's 65-nm chips. They will allow manufacturers to shrink the size of each SRAM cell, leading to smaller and more powerful memory in the future. The manufacturing process also becomes more efficient, as more chips can be produced from a single wafer.

Intel became the first company to demonstrate working 45nm technology when it produced what are believed to be "the first fully functional SRAM (Static Random Access Memory) chips using 45nm process technology" in January this year.

IBM has also been working on the technology in co-operation with others for some time. Sun has hinted that it is likely to use 45nm technology in its upcoming Niagara 3 processor aimed at the low-end of the market.