* Toshiba to spend $160 mln to set up test line - Nikkei
* Shares up 3.5 pct vs sector index's 0.8 pct gain
(Adds Toshiba comments, background, share price)
TOKYO, April 2 Toshiba Corp (6502.T) plans to
spend 15 billion yen ($160 million) this year to build a test
production line for advanced flash memory chips, the Nikkei
business daily said, sending shares of the Japanese electronics
The world's No.2 NAND flash memory maker behind Samsung
Electronics Co (005930.KS) has already ordered chip-making
equipment from ASML (ASML.AS) to produce microchips with
circuitry widths of less than 25 nanometres, the Nikkei said.
Narrower circuitry allows semiconductor companies to pack
more storage capacity on a smaller piece of silicon, cutting
per-chip production costs.
Toshiba currently makes NAND flash memory chips with
circuitry widths of 32 and 43 nanometres. One nanometre is a
billionth of a metre.
Unlike dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips used in
personal computers, NAND flash memory can retain data even after
power is turned off, making them an ideal memory device for
portable electronics such as mobile phones and digital cameras.
Toshiba plans to begin output of NAND chips with circuitry
widths in the upper 20 nanometre range soon, while production of
chips with circuitry widths in the lower 20 nanometres is slated
to start as early as 2012, the Nikkei said.
A Toshiba spokeswoman said the company plans to start
commercial production of NAND flash memory chips with circuitry
widths somewhere between 20 and 29 nanometres in the second half
of 2010, but it has not been decided whether the circuitry will
be wider or narrower than 25 nanometres.
The spokeswoman said Toshiba is in talks with the
Netherlands' ASML on the possible purchase of a prototype of
cutting-edge chip-making equipment that uses extreme ultraviolet
(EUV) lithography to form narrower circuitry onto silicon wafers.
Shares of Toshiba rose 3.5 percent to 504 yen, outperforming
the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index .IELEC.T,
which gained 0.8 percent.
(Reporting by Bijoy Koyitty in Bangalore and Kiyoshi Takenaka in
Tokyo; Editing by Chris Gallagher)