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Matsushita starts mass producing 45-nanometre chips
(Adds details, closing share price, background)
TOKYO, June 19 (Reuters) - Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (6752.T) has started making system chips with 45-nanometre circuitry, becoming the world's first company to manufacture the advanced microchips on a commercial basis, the maker of the Panasonic brand said on Tuesday.
Narrower circuitry helps chip makers cut manufacturing costs and power consumption per chip while packing more functions in a single sliver of silicon. A nanometre is one billionth of a metre.
Matsushita currently makes both 45- and 65-nanometre chips at production facilities in its central Japan plant. It plans to raise the output capacity of the facilities to 10,000 300-mm silicon wafers a month eventually from the current 6,500 wafers.
Matsushita, which has developed 45-nanometre chips with Renesas Technology Corp., aims to extend the existing cooperation to the development of the next-generation 32-nanometre chips, Matsushita Executive Vice President Susumu Koike told reporters.
Unlisted Renesas is a joint venture between Hitachi Ltd. (6501.T) and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. (6503.T).
In a sign of its technological prowess, the Japan Patent Office announced on Tuesday that Matsushita topped the list of Japanese companies active in filing patents, with 4,193 patents approved in 2006.
Matsushita was followed by Toshiba Corp. (6502.T) with 2,872 patents and Seiko Epson Corp. (6724.T) with 2,602.
Matsushita, which offers Viera flat TVs and Lumix digital cameras, was the world's 17th-largest microchip maker in 2006, according to research firm iSuppli.
The Osaka-based company expects its microchip output to grow 8 percent from a year earlier to 475 billion yen ($3.84 billion) in the year to March 2008, representing 5 percent of its projected revenues.
Following the announcement, shares in Matsushita closed down 0.2 percent at 2,570 yen, in line with the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index .IELEC.T.
((Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, editing by Malcolm Whittaker;
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