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Toshiba, Infineon form FRAM fraternity

$60m plan to produce commercial chips by 2002

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Toshiba is to team up with Infineon to fund the development and production of Ferroelectric RAM - FRAM - chips for next-generation cellphones.

Both companies will together pump $60 million and contribute 50 engineers to the programme, which is expected to result in shipping product by the end of 2002, initially 32Mb chips, with 64Mb and 128Mb versions following if the demand is there.

The deal follows Infineon's purchase of a $30 million stake in Ramtron, part of a deal to license the latter's FRAM technology.

FRAM is a non-volatile memory (it retains data without power) which is used in products such as power meters, smart cards, test instrumentation, factory automation, laser printers and security systems. If emerged back in 1998, from development work done by Hyundai and US companies Symetrix and Celis.

FRAM's advantage for cellphones - and other mobile devices, for that matter - is its low power requirements. ®

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