Intel has joined IMEC, a collaborative research group developing a 45nm chip fabrication process techniques using 300mm wafers, in a bid to minimise its own costs and to help limit the problems it may face in transitioning from its own 65nm process.
Samsung has also joined the group, which was formed by European chip makers Infineon, Philips and STMicroelectronics, EE Times reports.
IMEC's work centres on a number of elements of chip production, including interconnect solutions, advanced lithography, substrate research, and fab contamination control. Intel will be able to influence the direction these and other research projects take, as will the other members.
Techniques IMEC expects to investigate for its 45nm work include strained silicon, silicon on insulator, high-k gate stacks and FinFETs.
The IMEC research won't yield a complete 45nm solution for Intel - "It is not the goal of this program to produce a fully working 45nm CMOS process," said Luc Van den hove, IMEC's VP of silicon process and device technology - but the various projects should speed the development of key elements of its own 45nm process.
IMEC would not say what membership costs, but the work it undertakes is not cheap. However, for the participant companies, the cost of membership is likely to be much less than going it alone.
Chip makers are increasingly turning to collaborative projects to help reduce the growing cost of developing future generations of process technology. Earlier this year, AMD and IBM partnered to devise 65nm and 45nm processes that will be used by both companies. ®