Toshiba and Sandisk will jointly invest in a 3D V-NAND flash memory production facility in Japan, following the move of rival Samsung Electronics to start 3establish a 3D V-NAND production facility in Xian, China.
Toshiba, the world’s second-largest NAND flash memory chipmaker, plans to demolish the No. 2 semiconductor fabrication facility (Fab 2) at Yokkaichi Operations, the company's NAND Flash memory plant in Mie prefecture, Japan, and replace it with a new fab on the same site. The primary purpose of the new wafer fab is to secure space for converting existing Toshiba and SanDisk 2D NAND capacity to 3D NAND beginning in 2016.
Demolition work on the current Fab 2 will start in May with construction beginning in September 2014, with a target completion date of Summer 2015. Toshiba says the clean room within the new fab will be built in phases to align the clean room investment with the timing of conversion of 2D NAND capacity to 3D NAND. Construction of the initial cleanroom will be complete in time for 2016 output. The company did not specify when production of the new memory will start neither the what production levels would be, saying that those decisions will depend on the market trends and demands.
According to reports from Korea, Toshiba and SanDisk are going to invest 700 billion yen (7.419 trillion won, US$6.843 billion) for three years.
The new fab will provide a supplementary facility for processes mainly dedicated to 3D NAND memory production, and work in close cooperation with Yokkaichi's other facilities. Toshiba and SanDisk will support 3D memory production with manufacturing equipment for lithography, deposition and etching through joint ventures.
Yasuo Naruke, Corporate Senior Vice President of Toshiba Corporation and President and CEO of Semiconductor & Storage Products Company, said, "Our determination to develop advanced technologies underlines our commitment to respond to continued demand of NAND flash memory. We are confident that our joint venture with SanDisk will allow us to produce cost competitive next generation memories at Yokkaichi. "
Sanjay Mehrotra, President and Chief Executive Officer of SanDisk, said: "We are pleased to continue our long-standing collaboration with Toshiba in this new wafer fab, which will advance our leadership in memory technology into the 3D NAND era."
Toshiba is trying not lag behind its rival companies like Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, and Micron in the memory market. Samsung began to mass-produce 3D V-NAND flash memory chips in its plant in Xian. 3D V-NAND flash memory where 40nm-class NAND flash memory is stacked up in 24 layers are twice as fast and last 10 times longer than 20nm-class planar NAND flash memory. The world’s largest computer memory chipmaker is planning to dominate the market by developing 3D V-NAND flash memory chips in a 36-layer stack soon.
SK Hynix, the world's fourth-largest manufacturer of computer memory chips, is focusing on investing in NAND flash memory. The chip-maker plans to mass-produce 3D V-NAND at the end of this year. Micron recently changed its DRAM factory in Singapore into a NAND flash plant.