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Intel, Micron Tech plans new plant for flash chips

Intel And Micron plan to invest in a new plant that will make flash memory chip, used in popular gadgets such as MP3 players.

india Updated: Mar 19, 2006 14:30 IST

US chipmakers Intel Corp And Micron Technology Inc plan to invest in a new plant that will make flash memory chip, used in popular gadgets such as MP3 players and digital cameras, an Intel official said.

Their new joint ventue, called IM Flash Technologies, aims to take on market leaders Samsung Electronics Co. Of South Korea and Toshiba Corp Of Japan, said Brian Harrison, vice president of Intel's Flash Memory Group.

Harrison said Intel hasn't decided where the new facility will be based, and Asia hasn't been ruled out.

"We're conducting a worldwide search, so we haven't ruled out any region at the moment," he said in a recent telephone interview with Dow Jones Newswires.

The plant, which would make NAND-type flash chips, will ramp up production by late 2008 or early 2009, Harrison said. Capacity will also be boosted at three existing facilities through 2007, he added.

Unlike conventional memory chips, flash chips can retain data even when the electricity is turned off.

In November, Intel and Micron announced formation of a joint venture to take advantage of strong market demand for NAND flash chips. Intel, the world's largest semiconductor maker, holds 49 per cent of the joint venture, while 51 per cent belongs to Micron, the biggest US maker of memory chips.

Harrison said the joint venture would aggressively ramp up output from a plant in Manassas, Virginia, in the middle of this year, and at a plant in Lehi, Utah, in 2007.

Analysts say the joint venture will need to aggressively boost its NAND flash output in order to take share away from Samsung and Toshiba, which together hold more than 75 per cent of the NAND flash market.

First Published: Mar 19, 2006 14:30 IST