Bloomberg the Company

Bloomberg Anywhere Login

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Follow Us

Industry Products

Businessweek Archives

Japan's Big Push To Build Chips Atom By Atom


Developments to Watch

JAPAN'S BIG PUSH TO BUILD CHIPS ATOM BY ATOM

The semiconductor industry really took off in Japan in the late 1970s after the Ministry of International Trade & Industry funded $200 million of a catch-up program called the VLSI Project. Well, MITI is at it again. The ministry has just unveiled plans for another $200 million push--aimed at nanotechnology, or techniques for building ultratiny semiconductor devices, in some cases atom by atom. The cast of characters is mostly familiar: Among those that have already signed on are Fujitsu, Hitachi, NEC, and Toshiba. But this time, MITI hopes that they will be joined by Texas Instruments, Motorola, IBM, and other U.S. and European high-tech companies. That's because $200 million will just scratch the surface of the required investment.

One goal of the Atom Technology Project is to develop methods for building a memory chip that can store 16 billion bits of data. That's 1,000 times as many as the latest 16-megabit chips, which most suppliers won't produce in volume until next year. Such chips will require transistors so small that it would take several thousand to span the width of a human hair. The R&D cost of a 16-gigabit chip could run $2 billion-plus, chipmakers estimate.EDITED BY OTIS PORT


LIMITED-TIME OFFER SUBSCRIBE NOW
 
blog comments powered by Disqus