Toshiba steps up NAND chip wars -

Japanese giant Toshiba is set to break ground on a new fab in Yokkaichi in a bid to up its NAND Flash capacity.

According to nikkei.net, Fab 5 will allow Toshiba to compete with Korean firm Samsung, currently the world leader in NAND Flash technology.

Fab 5 will be built as part of Toshiba's joint venture with US company Sandisk and phase one is set to be finished in Spring next year.

Samsung is already aware of the Japanese threat and has started to build a fab at the Hwaseong in South Korea. Nikkei.net says that fab will be divided between producing NAND and DRAM, giving Samsung the ability to process half a million wafers when the plant is in full production.

There's currently a shortage of capacity not just for NAND Flash but for semiconductors generally, caused by companies retrenching or putting on hold plans to expand during the financial crisis of 2009.

The semiconductor market, despite ups and downs, remains cyclical and earlier this year,  Malcolm Penn, CEO of market research firm Future Horizons, warned that while there's a boom if there's no extra capacity there will be a bust.

Nikkei.net is here (subscription required).

* The same wire reports that motor firm Nissan is scrambling to get sufficient supply of ICs and a lack of supply is slowing down the now relatively buoyant production of vehicles.