IBM, Taiwan's second largest chip maker, United Microelectronics, and Germany's Infineon Technologies plan to jointly develop technology for use in semiconductor manufacturing.
The three year deal will see engineers from the three companies working together at IBM's US based Semiconductor Research and Development Center, but the number of engineers and amount of money each partner will contribute to the venture has yet to be determined.
The aim of Worldlogic, as the partnership will be known, is to develop common process technologies for building logic chips with circuit sizes from 0.13 to 0.1 micron. One micron equals 1/100 the width of a human hair.
According to Jim Kupek, UMC USA's president, the joint venture hopes to have developed 0.13 micron technology by the fourth quarter of this year, and 0.1 micron technology by 2002.
It is also looking at ways of building processors based on copper wiring, and enabling logic, mixed signal circuitry and embedded Dram memory to be combined on a single chip. Each of the Worldlogic partners will have the right to use any of the jointly developed processes in their own manufacturing facilities.
Developing copper based semiconductors means that it is possible to reduce their size while boosting their power because copper conducts electricity better than aluminum, which is now the industry standard. Copper chips are also easier to manufacture because there are fewer steps in the manufacturing process.
But UMC's Kupek said that the companies banded together because of the complexity and costs involved in developing ever shrinking chip technology. "It would be impractical, if not impossible, to solve these problems as a single company," he said.
The partnership should help the firm gain ground on its chief rival, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC). Although TSMC is Taiwan's largest chip maker, it is not expected to introduce 0.13 micron chips until next year.
Andreas von Zitzewitz, Infineon's chief operating officer, added: "The companies will be able to develop such technology even faster with reduced risk at a reasonable cost per partner."
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago