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Samsung ups power-efficiency efforts

Posted: 30 Mar 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:DRAM? green product? power-efficient DDR3? LCD?

South Korea chip giant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd at an event a host of power-efficient, "green" products, including the disclosure of a new, low-power DDR3 DRAM device.

It also disclosed a new ultraslim LCD line, based on LED backlighting technology. The company is also looking to roll out products, based on its PenTile subpixel rendering display technology.

Samsung classified these and other existing products under the "green" umbrella. The company believes the shift toward green-oriented technologies will jumpstart the slumping market. For some time, the entire memory market has been engulfed in a major and horrific downturn, leaving mostif not allvendors in the red.

"Green technology will accelerate innovation," said Jim Elliott, VP of Samsung Electronics' U.S. arm, Samsung Semiconductor Inc.

The shift towards "green" DRAMs, hard drives, solid-state drives and LCDs will enable lower power systems and new applications, Elliott said. Green technology needs to "accelerate over the next several years," he added.

Still to be seen, however, is if or when the overall memory business will recover. The overall memory sector "is in a trough," he said. "It's tough to say" when the recovery will occur.

Prices for NAND have been climbing in recent months, but demand remains slow. For DRAMs, "2009 will be an extremely difficult year," said Sherry Garber, a partner for Convergent Semiconductors, a market research firm. By July or so, though, the DRAM slide could "level off" and "climb," she said.

Low-voltage DDR3
Samsung, however, mostly talked about its previously-announced products during the event. But in one presentation, the company disclosed several technologies for the big trouble spot in the market: the datacenter.

To bring low power consumption for servers in the datacenter, Samsung tipped a new 1.35V DDR3 DRAM device. The 1,066Mbit/s product is said to consume 40 percent less power than today's 1.8V 667Mbit/s DDR2 memory, said Sylvie Kadivar, associate director of strategic DRAM marketing at Samsung Semiconductor.

Samsung did not provide other details about the product, but analysts believe that the Korean company will not be alone in the low-voltage, DDR3 market. "Samsung and Micron will be there," said Bob Merritt, a partner for Convergent Semiconductors.

Meanwhile, Samsung also said that it has begun mass production of a ultraslim LCD panel line for use in large-sized TVs. The panels utilize Samsung's edge-lit LED backlighting technology.

Power-efficient displays
A 55-inch Samsung HDTV with edge-lit LED backlighting uses up to 40 percent less power than conventional LCD TVs. Just 10.8mm thick, the new Samsung panels are only a fourth the thickness of conventional LCD panels currently in mass production and come in 40-, 46- and 55-inch diagonal sizes.

In a related development on the green front, Samsung is still looking to devise more products based on its PenTile technology. Last year, the company acquired the IP assets of Clairvoyante Inc. a company that developed the PenTile subpixel rendering display technology.

After the acquisition, Samsung dissolved Clairvoyante and formed Nouvoyance. Clairvoyante's technology organizes red, green and blue, and adds white subpixels into a matrix that can represent any color.

The technology adds a white subpixel and uses a unique subpixel matrix that has an average of only two subpixels per pixel, instead of the normal three. A set of algorithms for the company's driver chips makes the overall display appear higher in contrast, sharper and up to twice as bright as a standard displayor, alternatively, just as bright, but with half the power consumption.

So far, the company has implemented its PenTile technology for OLED applications. KDDI has devised two handsets based on the technology, according to the company. Other PenTile-based "products will flow out" this year, said Joel Pollack, senior vice president of strategic sales and marketing for Nouvoyance.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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