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IBM's charming smile attracts Hitachi to 32nm research pact

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When it comes to semiconductors, IBM is the friendliest vendor in town.

The hardware maker has announced a deal with Hitachi to share costs and expertise around researching techniques for manufacturing very small chips. The agreement marks the first time IBM and Hitachi have teamed up on semiconductors work. IBM, however, has similar partnerships in place with AMD, Chartered, Infineon, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, Freescale, STMicroelectronics and any other company not named Intel.

Specifically, IBM and Hitachi will tackle 32nm production techniques over a two-year period.

As the vendors tell it, most of the shared magic will take place at IBM's Watson Research Center and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which are both located in New York.

The researchers "will use new methods that include the latest technologies to analyze semiconductor devices and structures in order to improve the characterization and measurement of transistor variation - as well as to develop a better understanding of device physics."

Intel has already moved to 45nm, and the rest of the chip world is following. The 32nm gear should start trickling out in 2009 and then become more available in 2010.

It looks as if Intel will be battling just about the entire world at 32nm. Semiconductor manufactures have partnered in various ways to try and offset both rising fabrication costs and Intel's muscle in the chip game. ®

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