AMD's Spansion unveils new flash memory products

Spansion, the flash memory joint venture between Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Fujitsu, unveiled two products that introduce a new design into Spansion's lineup and expand the density of its current products, the company said Tuesday.

The company now manufactures a 512M-bit flash memory chip, as well as serial flash memory chips ranging from 1M bits to 16M bits, Spansion said. AMD owns a controlling interest in the joint venture, which contributes almost half of AMD's revenue on a quarterly basis.

Flash memory is usually found in mobile phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), and removable media cards for consumer electronics products. It can store data without a constant supply of electricity, unlike RAM memory used in PCs and servers.

Most flash memory is based on a parallel design, but AMD's new Spansion FL Flash chips are based on a serial design. A serial design means that bits of data travel one at a time through the chip, while in a parallel design bits of data travel in groups of eight or 16 bits. Serial designs require less pins to connect the chips to the system board, and lower the cost and complexity of devices that use serial flash memory, Spansion said.

Serial flash memory products will be used in lower-level devices such as hard drives, DVD players, and printers, Spansion said. The company is currently selling 1M-bit and 2M-bit chips, and has samples of 4M-bit chips and 16M-bit chips, it said.

Spansion also increased the density of its flagship Mirrorbit flash memory chips to 512M bits on Tuesday. Those chips will be used in automobiles, telecommunication devices and mobile phones, the company said. The new chips, like all of AMD's Mirrorbit chips, are based on the NOR architecture.

NOR chips are based on the "not or" logic gate and are typically used in PDAs and other devices that don't require frequent updates to stored data. The other popular type of flash memory is called NAND flash memory. It is based on the "not and" logic gate and used primarily in devices that are often updated, such as expansion cards for peripheral devices.

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Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
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