Samsung develops smaller 4G-bit flash memory chip

Samsung Electronics has developed a prototype flash memory chip that has a capacity equal to the company's current largest commercial flash memory but at a smaller physical size, it said Monday.

The new chip can store 4G bits (or 512M bytes) of memory and has a memory gate that is 70 nanometers in size. Samsung is currently mass producing 4G bit chips with 120 nanometer, or 0.12 micron, memory gates and is also preparing to begin production of 90 nanometer versions.

The higher density chips are important for applications such as memory cards. Because the cards are a fixed size, the only way to create higher capacity versions is to cram more memory inside and that means higher density chips. They will also help engineers keep the size of portable electronics devices, such as digital music players, cellular telephones or digital still cameras, small while increasing the internal memory capacity.

Since the development of a 256M-bit flash memory chip in 1999, the Seoul-based chip maker has managed to double memory density every year and Monday's announcement continues that trend. What's more, the company expects the trend to continue, company spokeswoman Sonia Kim said on Monday.

With its ability to keep data in memory even when power is turned off, flash memory can be found in millions of digital electronics products. Samsung said it expects the global market for NAND-type flash memory to be US$3 billion this year and jump to $16 billion by 2007. The company said it is targeting annual sales growth of 70 percent from $400 million in 2001 and $1.1 billion in 2002.

Samsung, along with Japan's Toshiba, leads the flash memory market, according to the most recent data from market research company IDC.

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