Fujitsu and Toshiba are testing new next-generation 65-nanometer chip production technology in manufacturing facilities in Tokyo.

Today's most advanced semiconductors are produced using a 90-nanometer process. The measurement refers to the size of the smallest track, or gap-width, that can be made on the chip's surface. Sixty-five nanometers is about a thousandth the width of a human hair.

Fujitsu showed a number of trial wafers at a company event held in Japan last week, and confirmed the wafers are produced using a 65-nanometer production technology on a trial line at its Akiruno Technology Centre in western Tokyo.

Its 65-nanometer technology is still in the development stage and it has not yet reached the level where Fujitsu can evaluate chips built using the technology or supply samples to customers, said Amy Ishida, a company spokeswoman.

Toshiba is further along in the development of the technology, and is currently evaluating early 65-nanometer samples, said Junichi Nagaki, a company spokesman. Toshiba is using a pilot line at a facility in Yokohama to produce the chips.

One of the first uses for Toshiba's technology will be the production of the Cell processor, which will be used in Sony Computer Entertainment Inc's (SCEI) upcoming PlayStation 3 games console and future consumer electronics products from other companies. In this area Toshiba is working with SCEI, Sony Corp. and IBM on technology development. Mass production is scheduled for the first half of 2005, said Nagaki.

A smaller number means semiconductors can be made physically smaller, because everything can be made to take up less space, or made more powerful, because more can be crammed into a given space. For this reason, progress in manufacturing technology is a vital part of realizing faster, smaller and cheaper chips and ultimately the products in which they are used.