AMD adds new low-power flash memory chip for handhelds

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) introduced a low-power flash memory chip that will allow handheld and cell phone makers to cut their devices' power consumption, the company said Wednesday.

The 64M-bit Am29BDS640G chip runs on only 1.8 volts of electricity, which extends battery life, AMD said. This also allows manufacturers to use faster CPUs and other power-hungry components in forthcoming cell phones for advanced networks.

Flash memory is nonvolatile memory, which means it can store information even without an electrical current running through the chip. Users can store phone numbers, calendars, and other information that is automatically saved without having to use a storage device like a hard drive.

The chip is available in a multichip package, bundling flash memory with 8M-bit or 16M-bit SRAM (static RAM) chips. This allows personal digital assistant (PDA) and cell phone manufacturers to design products that are smaller and lighter by reducing the space required by a separate flash and SRAM setup, AMD said.

Flash memory represents 29 percent of AMD's revenue, according to information on its Web site. The company recently announced an agreement with Fujitsu Ltd. and Saifun Semiconductors Ltd. to collaborate on flash memory chip development, signaling AMD's desire to bolster its flash-memory product lines even further amid increased pressure from industry-leading chipmaker Intel Corp. on the desktop chip front. Intel manufactures a similar flash memory device that runs at 1.8 volts, but is available in three different densities, 32M-bit, 64M-bit, and 128M-bit.

AMD prices the Am29BDS640G at US$10.75 in 10,000-unit quantities.

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Tom Krazit

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