Japanese chip maker Elpida Memory has begun mass production of memory chips using a 70-nanometre production process, which offers to further reduce costs and improve performance.

Elpida is now making 1GB and 512MB DDR (double data rate 2) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) chips at Hiroshima Elpida Memory, the company's main production plant. The chips are designed for a range of applications, including servers and digital cameras, and will be available during the first quarter of 2007, the company said.

Previously, Elpida used a 90-nanometre process to manufacture memory chips. Moving to a more advanced process allows the company to reduce the size of the smallest features that can be created on a chip, which means the overall size of the ship can shrink. This allows more chips to be produced on a silicon wafer and lowers unit production costs, which usually means lower chip prices for end users.

More advanced production processes generally lower power consumption and speed up chip performance.

Looking ahead, Elpida plans to begin using the 70-nanometreprocess to make mobile RAM chips, memory chips that are designed for use in mobile phones and PDAs. The company did not give a date for when it expects to begin production of these chips with the more advanced process technology.