Samsung develops new memory chips

Samsung Electronics has developed two high-capacity memory parts, one of which will lead to higher-capacity storage cards for a range of consumer electronics, and another which will help PCs better handle memory-intensive applications such as 3D graphics processing, the company said yesterday.

One of the memory chips, an 8G-bit NAND flash memory chip based on extremely thin circuit and cell technology, will enable the company to develop 16G-byte memory cards that can contain up to 16 hours of DVD-quality video, or up to 4,000 songs of about five minutes each encoded in MP3 audio files, the company said.

The other memory chip announced by Samsung is a 2G-bit DDR2 (double data rate 2) SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) parts that will help workstations and servers process video and 3D-graphics applications, according to the company.

NAND flash memory is mainly used in storage cards and in mobile phones. DDR2 is a more advanced variant of the most commonly used memory in PCs.

The 8G-bit flash memory chips are built on a 60-nanometer (nm) process technology and have storage cells that are 30 percent smaller than the 70nm 4G-bit memory cells Samsung developed last year. A lower nanometer number means the circuits and memory cells can be made smaller, faster and less expensively. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.

"This is a ground-breaking technology and the memory should be available in 2007," said Kim Hyung Nam, principal analyst, Memory, at U.S.-based technology market research company iSuppli, in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

"For the consumer, capacity matters, and with this technology the price could be reduced dramatically," he said.

For the 2G-bit DDR2 SDRAM parts, Samsung said that industry expected these to be made on a 65nm or smaller process, but the company made several innovations with transistor technology that enabled the parts to be made on an 80nm process. The company expects to start mass production of the parts in the second half of 2005.

The impact of the 2G-bit DDR2 SDRAM parts demonstrate technology leadership by Samsung, but there probably won't be a market for the parts until 2008 or 2009, according to Kim.

"In terms of technology, 2G-bit DDR2 SDRAM is not a near-term product. Right now 256M bits is mainstream and that's a quarter of the size. We don't think 512M bits will become the main memory chip for PCs until 2008," he said.

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