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Rambus founder's Matrix unveils first 3D memory chip

World's first commercial 3D Flash technology to launch today

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Updated Microsoft-backed Santa Clara-based start up Matrix Semiconductor will today launch what it claims is the world's first commercial 3D chip technology and its initial implementation: the Flash-like Matrix 3D Memory (3DM).

The company, formed by Rambus co-founder Mike Farmwald, also filled out its management team and revealed how it's going to bring the technology to market, including tie-ins with "some of the world's most well-known brands".

Matrix's three-dimensional semiconductor design stacks planes of silicon micro-circuitry one of top of the other. The idea is to create 'high-rise' chips that contain many more circuits than today's 'one or two-storey' parts. That, the company claims, will allow one 3DM chip to offer many times the storage capacity of a traditional SDRAM, RDRAM or Flash chip - and offering a tenfold cost reduction over current technologies.

The company claims chips based on the design can be fabbed in existing CMOS plants using standard equipment and materials. It has already signed up TSMC and packaging operation Amkor Technologies to handle the production.

Matrix plans to bring 3DM to market sometime next year with a non-volatile part aimed at memory cards, cellphones, PDAs etc. It isn't claiming to be the first company to announce 3D chip technology, but it does believe it's the first to launch a commercial product - even though the product itself won't appear until next year.

Matrix was formed in 1998 and lists Microsoft and "a number of the world-leading consumer electronics companies" among the investors who have together pumped over $80 million into the start-up.

The company was founded by Thomas Lee - formerly of Rambus, AMD and pre-Compaq DEC - Mark Johnson - erstwhile an employee of Transmeta, AMD, Rambus and MIPS - and Mike Farmwald, who not only founded SoC specialist Chromatic Research but was one of the co-founders of Rambus. You'll notice immediately the connecting factor: Rambus. President and CEO Dennis Segers joined the company last September for Xilinix, having done stints as Nat Semi, Summit and Mostek. Matrix's COO, Siva Sivaram, is an old Intel hand. ®

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