Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, Koninklijke Philips Electronics and STMicroelectronics have developed a new 0.09-micron chip-fabrication process.

The companies have built 1MB and 4MB chips at pilot-production facilities in France and Taiwan. Prototype-chip production is expected to begin late this year.

Using a 0.09-micron manufacturing process means the companies can deliver faster chips that consume less power than existing chips fabricated using the 0.13-micron process. Its expected the 0.09-micron process will be used to produce chips for 3G phones, mobile handsets and digital devices.

The project to develop the new fabrication process began in mid-2001 and is expected to last five years.

The companies plan to develop more advanced processes, including a 0.065-micron (65-nanometer) process that's expected to be introduced roughly two years after the 0.09-micron process. However, this goal faces significant hurdles in terms of the cost of development, technological availability and technical challenges, it is claimed.