HITACHI CHIP PLAN SEEN UNREALISTIC

HITACHI CHIP PLAN SEEN UNREALISTIC

Japanese electronics giant Hitachi Ltd. dazzled the world's media when it announced last week it had developed a tiny memory chip capable of storing the equivalent of a 256-page newspaper. But industry analysts said Friday they are skeptical that the prototype will ever be commercially viable.

Thursday's announcement of the prototype 64-megabit dynamic random-access memory chip marks Hitachi as the forerunner in the fierce race to develop the next-generation of semiconductors, the electronic "brains" that make up the inner workings of computers.But analysts believe the key technology to develop Hitachi's chip is too slow and costly to ever lead to mass production of the 64-megabit Dram chips.

"It's a kind of propaganda on Hitachi's part," said Naoki Sato, an electronics analyst at Schroder Securities (Japan) Ltd.

With NEC Corp., Fujitsu Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. scrambling closely behind, Hitachi announced the new prototype to capture the limelight here and abroad, Mr. Sato and other analysts said.

Hitachi used electric beam technology to write circuit layers onto a wafer, the disc-shaped bed on which hundreds of individual chips are formed. The beam moves slowly, making trillions of stops before processing the whole layer.

"It's like walking to New York vs. taking a plane," said Steve Meyers, an analyst at Jardine Fleming Securities Ltd.