Intel preps plastic memory production plan

Cheaper. Much cheaper

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Intel Corp is accelerating the development of polymer-based memory and preparing to move into production with an alternative to flash memory that will be 10% of the price of its silicon equivalent and has vastly greater storage potential,

Brian White writes

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It is taking out production licenses for what are described as "possible Intel products" in a move that will send shivers down the spine of those with billions invested in silicon-based storage technology.

Under a new deal with Thin Film Electronics ASA (TFE), the two companies will begin development of fabrication processes for polymer memory modules at one of Intel's wafer fabrication facilities at Hillsboro, Oregon. Until now, the companies had been working together at TFE's R&D center in Linkoping, Sweden, but the shift to Intel's home patch is an indication that the chip giant is expecting to move into production soon.

Plastic memory has the potential to be a hugely disruptive technology offering a full 3D architecture with the ability to stack thousands of the polymer layers. TFE also claims it can be produced as easily as printing color photographs.

Intel bought a 13% stake in TFE from its Oslo, Norway-based parent Opticom ASA, and had its own development team working with the company on the technology.

But doubts grew over the partnership when there was a delay on an agreement to move the project forward to its second stage of developing a production prototype (CI No 4,305).

But a statement from TFE yesterday on a new deal with Intel ended the uncertainty and suggests that the project has jumped forward from developing production prototypes to fabrication processes. The two companies said they will develop scalable arrays to take advantage of the new fabrication processes.

Intel has been secretive about the whole project and insisted that TFE staff gave little away. But the statement yesterday quoted Sanjay Panditji, vice president of Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group as saying: "We are now entering a new phase to develop cost-effective, volume-capable fabrication processes and dense polymer memory arrays taking advantage of them."

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