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Spansion eyes $30B DRAM market

Posted: 21 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM market? NOR flash? flash memory?

Spansion Inc. is eyeing the $30 billion DRAM market.

Spansion, which supplies only NOR flash memory and hasn't reported a profit in 10 quarters due to intense competition and pressure on ASPs, plans to position its proprietary MirrorBit technology as a competitor to DRAM, which will open the market to high-end phones, PDAs and communication handsets.

"We are currently designing a DRAM-like device using MirrorBit technology," said Bertrand Cambou, president and CEO, at Spansion's first analyst briefing held at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York, U.S.A. Cambou did not say when the product would be ready for market.

"People say the competition for NOR is NAND. This statement is wrong." The competition is DRAM, he said. "We have the opportunity to go after DRAM," which he called "a kind of dirty memory" due to its use of a capacitor and its need for a refresh every millisecond.

MirrorBit could be used in place of DRAM and would provide a lower-power, lower-priced solution, he said. It would also allow Spansion to play in the market for high-end handsets, lifting it from the mainstream NOR market where competition is fierce.

"DRAM is a $30 billion market today," Cambou said. "If we take 10 percent of that we would double the size of our company." Spansion reported $2.6 billion in sales in 2006 and was the world's biggest NOR flash supplier last year, according to market watcher iSuppli Corp.

"Right now, 166MHz is what you need to hit to take the DRAM space," Cambou said. "Today we are doing 133MHz. If we go 20 percent faster, we can be there."

Cambou said MirrorBit is superior to floating gate technology used by Intel, STMicroelectronics and other NOR competitors. Some analysts question the ability of floating gate to scale to sub-45nm geometries.

The long-rumored alliance of Intel Corp. and STMicroelectronics, the NOR market's No. 2 and 3 suppliers, will also create an opportunity for Spansion, Cambou said. "Floating gate is losing steam. Going forward we think consolidation is in motion."

Smaller NOR players will not be a factor because they are not investing in 300mm capacity or 45nm process technology with Spansion's intensity. "We see ourselves as being the leader in NOR and will redefine the industry by making customer-centric solutions with a laser focus on cost."

Added Cambou: "Some of our competition is not excited by our product, but we are. We think it has a lot of potential. We think it is an exciting field. We have the technology it takes to flourish as a company."

- David Roman
EE Times

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