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Publication Title | The Age of the Digital Nomad

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MAKIMOTO LIBRARY / Exhibit V
position in the world among similar devices. Members in each section did their best to reach this common goal. The 16K SRAM project was successfully completed, and commercial samples were prepared and delivered to potential customers.
In a sense, the project was a challenge to the late-1970s industry consensus that held that NMOS was the mainstream semiconductor industry device. A typical comment we heard from our competitors in those days went like this: “Hitachi’s new CMOS chip would be great if it could be produced in volume”. As mentioned previously, development and manufacturing are quite different. It is true that even if an excellent device has been developed, its value will be diminished if it is not producible in volume. We therefore had to demonstrate that the new CMOS devices were producible en masse in as cost-effective a way as commercial items.
Our potential customers also had some concerns about our CMOS device since no other chip companies were following in our foot-steps, which meant that there was no “second source” for the device. I therefore had to visit customers by myself--especially the strategic ones--in order to explain the basic philosophy of our CMOS direction, including our supply capability and future prospect. Through direct contact with customers, I became confident that if we had a big inventory, their concerns would mostly disappear. The big inventory says, indirectly, that the device is mass-producible. So I embarked on a strategy to build an inventory of 16K SRAM under the name of “strategic inventory,” since the inventory level of commodity memories was kept under strict control.
Production went very smoothly, and a strategic inventory was built more rapidly than I expected. We were ready to ship any amount of the new 16K SRAM. Orders from customers did not arrive, however. The inventory level reached a critical point where the top managers began to pay strong attention, and a big question was raised about our strategy to sell CMOS instead of following the industry-standard NMOS approach. A very drastic directive from the top was about to be issued to change the direction of the technology from CMOS back to NMOS. And at almost the same instant, a goddess of business smiled on us; we began receiving big orders from customers. Our 16K SRAM business grew nicely, and Hitachi became the number-one producer of 16K memory chips in the world in 1981.
With the commercial success of 16K SRAM, confidence in CMOS was established inside Hitachi. Our next strategy was to expand the adoption of CMOS technology to other devices, including MPUs, MCUs, logic circuits, and DRAMs. The 8-bit microprocessor was the first to follow in this direction; the first CMOS MPU, the HD6301, was introduced to the market in 1981. Table 2 summarizes the comparison of 8-bit MPUs based on CMOS and those using NMOS that had been developed previously. As can be seen from the table, the CMOS version was twice as fast, and its power dissipation was 1/30 in active mode and 1/7,000 in standby mode of that of the NMOS MPUs. The success of the CMOS 8-bit MPU contributed to setting a new technological direction for microprocessors and logic devices.
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