Intel teams up with Samsung, Toshiba

Intel teams up with Samsung, Toshiba

Intel has teamed up with Samsung and Toshiba to research solutions to the 11nm current leakage problem.

Intel, Toshiba, and Samsung have joined forces to develop technologies to bring process sizes down as low as 11nm, with planned facilities to include research labs and a manufacturing facility in Japan.

The deal, which was reported in Japanese newspaper The Nikkei this weekend, sees the three companies combine their efforts and launch a new initiative which aims to solve some of the problems with the ever-shrinking process size in the semiconductor market.

Although Intel is still working on launching its 22nm-based CPUs, it's clearly looking ahead. Thankfully, it won't be working on the problem alone, as the three companies will be joining staff, facilities, and money together to crack the next big step in semiconductor evolution.

The initial investment from the three companies will be equalled by seed funding from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, with the expected total initial investment to reach around ¥10 billion, or around £77.5 million.

Each company will have its own reasons for joining forces with the other two, but one of the main reasons certainly has to be an attempt to counter the threat from IBM and AMD, who entered into a similar research agreement into technologies for reduced process sizes several years ago.

Better technologies for the creation of ultra-small process size semiconductors holds great promise for NAND flash memory, CPUs, and GPUs, unlocking increased performance and lowered power draw, but only if solutions for current leakage can be found.

While some companies work on improving the technologies behind electrical circuits, IBM is hedging its bets and continues to invest money in an optical computing initiative which it claims could unlock processors that perform several orders of magnitude better than existing chips while consuming a tenth of the power.

Are you pleased to see Intel teaming up with other companies to crack the ever-shrinking process size problem, or does the company need to take a leaf out of IBM's book and start looking for the next big thing rather than refining the technology we already have? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


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BRAWL 2nd November 2010, 08:46 Quote
Companies looking into different area's to advance computing - Always a good thing!

11nm.... jeez, I remember thinking "wow 65nm... that's tiny!"
l3v1ck 2nd November 2010, 09:07 Quote
I was thinking the same when I bought my 90nm Athlon 64. Sooooo much smaller than the sweaty old 130 nm ;)
While 11nm is an obvious boost for CPU power efficiency and laptop battery life, I'm more interested how shrinking manufacturing proceses will affect SSD capacities and prices.
Jezcentral 2nd November 2010, 09:42 Quote
£77.5 million isn't even that much compared to the amount these companies regularly put into R&D.
Snips 2nd November 2010, 09:56 Quote
It's down the back of the sofa pizza change to Intel.
TWeaK 2nd November 2010, 10:21 Quote
Originally Posted by Jezcentral
£77.5 million isn't even that much compared to the amount these companies regularly put into R&D.
Originally Posted by Snips
It's down the back of the sofa pizza change to Intel.


It's good that they're looking to improve the technology, but as mentioned towards the end of the article they really need to be looking into new materials and such other than silicon. We're very close to the limit of what's economically feasible, so a breakthrough in something like optical or maybe graphene would be much more welcome. I imagine Intel's funding towards that sort of research is much greater.
Sloth 2nd November 2010, 15:26 Quote
Correct me if I'm wrong, but hasn't Intel been looking pretty closely at photonic computing as well? The article seems to imply that IBM is the only one considering the option. Just seems logical that they would be, what with LightPeak and all.
Adnoctum 2nd November 2010, 16:53 Quote
Wow, Samsung puts it around don't they?
I only just read a few months ago that they were "collaborating" with IBM and Global Foundries on their Common Platform initiative at 32/28nm, and now they're teaming up with Intel at 11nm. I wonder how IBM and GloFlo feels about Samsung's R&D department flirting outside of the relationship? Or Intel, for that matter.

Given that all three partners involved here are major NAND manufacturers, I would say that the research will have this application in mind rather than CPU/GPU.
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