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Samsung tips memory chips for content-heavy handsets, CE devices

Posted: 02 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:memory chips? flash memory? digital consumer electronics?

Aiming to consolidate its leadership in the global chip market for mobile handsets and digital consumer electronic devices, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd this week unveiled an array of mobile memory chip solutions.

Handsets and CE devices will provide the next wave of growth, said Hwang Chang-Gyu, president of Samsung's semiconductor unit, during the annual Samsung Mobile Solution Forum in Taiwan.

Right now, 2 billion mobile handsets and digital CE devices are being shipped annually worldwide, Chang-Gyu said. That market is "10 times bigger than today's PC markets," where 200 million PCs are now being sold. And that growth will continue well into 2010 and beyond, he predicted.

To accommodate the growing amounts of data handled by a digital CE or a mobile handset, Samsung aims to offer innovative data storage solutions like memory chips.

For example, mobile phones doubling as MP3 players or as digital still cameras or even as video players have become increasingly loaded with content-heavy data to support these complex functions. Consequently, memory storage space in a mobile phone has jumped from 10Kbytes to several million bytes.

Samsung's latest chip rollout, the Flex-OneNAND, offers single-level and multilevel cell solutions on one silicon die.

The Flex-OneNAND is the third generation of fusion chips from Samsung, following the second-generation OneNAND embedded chip. It incorporates its own proprietary software programs, which guarantee flexibility moving between single-level cell (SLC) and multilevel cell (MLC) flash technology.

For example, the software program allows CE and mobile handset designers to use the single-die NAND chip for either SLC-dedicated or MLC-dedicated functionality, or a combination of both, depending on their designs.

If designers have a more application-centric design scheme, they can dedicate the chip to SLC functionality, since the SLC part is more effective in processing code, or instruction-centric information like OS and application software.

When the chip is used as an SLC-dedicated NAND flash, it has a density of 2Gbytes.

In more data-centric designs, the chip can be used as a dedicated MLC NAND flash chip. In that case, the density will be as high as 4Gbytes.

The combination saves space in board design, since it allows designers to use one chip instead of twoone for SLC-type NAND flash memory and the other for MLC flash, according to Samsung.

Currently, for example, a cellphone has one SLC NAND flash chip and one for MLC memory. The SLC chip is reserved as a storage space for code-centric operations or application software programs. The MLC chip is used for data storage, or has a slot for an MLC NAND chip based on an external memory card.

Mass production of Flex-OneNAND chips will start next month. Samsung expects sales of the chip to hit $100 million and then reach $1 billion by 2012.

OneDRAM chip
Samsung has also released a package-on-package mobile platform that incorporates its own indigenous application processor chip and proprietary OneDRAM chip in the same package.

The mobile platform targets third-generation, 3.5G high-speed downlink packet access or mobile WiMAX smartphones. It allows a mobile designer to use one shared memory system for application processor chips as well as a baseband modem chip, instead of a dedicated memory system for each.

The OneDRAM chip, which was introduced last December, is a fusion memory that combines SRAM and DRAM circuitry on a single die. This allows cellphone designers to enjoy the high-speed data access attributes of SRAM as well as the high-density storage capacity of DRAM.

The application processor incorporates a 667MHz ARM1176 core, allowing high-quality video streaming for standard-definition reception.

In addition, Samsung is also offering a 1.8-inch, 64Gbyte SSD. The solid-state device boasts increases in read and write speeds of 20 percent and 40 percent, respectively, over the previously released 30Gbyte SSD. Mass production will start Q2.

- Sean Shim
EE Times

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