Flash Drive Inventor Sets Sights on 3D Chip Design

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If you don't recognize the name Fujio Masuoka, pull out your iPod and think real hard. That's right: He invented flash memory while working at Toshiba, an invention that earned him a bonus of a few hundred dollars and then an attempted demotion out of research at Toshiba.


To say Toshiba came to regret that decision -- and its decision not to act on flash memory, but let Intel develop the technology - would be an understatement.


Too bad they didn't keep Masuoka, who now works as the CTO of Unisantis Electronics in Japan -- because it looks like he's going to do it again.


This week, Singapore's Institute of Microelectronics announced a joint venture with Masuoka to develop his 3D chip designs. This is big news, because 3D semiconductors could create processors 10 times faster than the current flat chips of the same size -- for a good explanation of why, check out this Gizmodo post.


Intel and IBM are also researching 3D chip design.


Masuoka says the 3D semiconductors will replace flat chips within two years, according to this Tech.co.uk post. In order to put the 3D chips into production quickly, he plans to pay royalties to Singapore while licensing the design to manufacturers.


I know: Sounds crazy, right? But remember: Toshiba and many Japanese engineers thought he was crazy when he invented the flash drive a decade ago.