Sony and Qimonda join for DRAM design venture

Sony and Qimonda plan to open a joint venture chip design house to develop DRAM for consumer and graphics devices.

Sony and German memory chip maker Qimonda plan to form a joint venture chip design house to develop DRAM (dynamic RAM) for consumer and graphics devices, the companies said this week.

The 50-50 joint venture, called Qreatic Design, will open in Tokyo by the end of this year, the companies said in a joint statement. It will focus on high-performance, low power, embedded and customer specific DRAM chips.

Qimonda is one of the world's largest DRAM makers, while Sony has its own internal chip design teams working on a wide range of products. Sony and its affiliates are also major purchasers of specialty memory chips. The PlayStation 3, for example, uses Rambus' high powered XDR memory for a variety of purposes, including graphics support.

A number of companies are working on using DRAM technology in new devices due to its high performance and low cost. DRAM is the primary RAM used in PCs. Often referred to as "on-screen memory" the chips hold data as it is being used and manipulated on a screen, but lose the data once power has been shut off. Its use in PCs make DRAM the cheapest memory chip available, due to the huge volume of chips produced globally each year.

Samsung Semiconductor, for example, has been selling Mobile DRAM chips aimed at handsets and other small devices. The chips use a lot less power than standard DRAM made for PCs, and they work better than other kinds of memory because they run faster and can handle more operations. As users continue to demand that their mobile phones and other gadgets, such as multimedia iPods, perform more functions such as handle spreadsheets, surf the Web, play music, take pictures, run videos and more, the memory chips inside will have to be tweaked to work harder and do more.

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Dan Nystedt

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