Five major memory chip makers and microprocessor maker Intel today announced plans to jointly co-operate on development of future generation, high performance DRAM (dynamic random access memory) chips.

The companies - Hyundai, Infineon, Intel, Micron, NEC, and Samsung - said in a statement the technology being developed is targeted for applications in 2003 and beyond, but offered few details on specifics of the new chips. Industry sources said the new technology will probably start appearing with the launch of 1G-bit DRAM chips.

"This is really just an agreement that we will start working on the technology needed for future DRAMs," said Aston Bridgman, a spokesman for NEC. With the announcement, the companies will now begin studying what technologies and systems will be needed in future systems before development of the chips can begin, he added.

The companies said they will develop the architecture, electrical and physical design, and related infrastructure for these new chips together with other companies in the industry, and make details available to interested parties. Other companies are expected to join the work in the future, the NEC spokesman said.

The companies said the agreement is aimed at ensuring the development of memory chips moves in the same technical direction as that of microprocessors and system architecture.

In the recent past, memory chip makers and microprocessor makers have been moving in different directions. The memory makers favoured synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) chips and SDRAM DDR (double-data-rate) chips while microprocessor makers pushed for adoption of DRAM chips with proprietary memory interface technology from Rambus.

By working together, the two sides hope to ensure that such a conflict is avoided in future. While some memory chip makers adopted the Rambus technology, several only did so after Intel provided them with money to build production lines.