LONDON South Korean electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has announced that it has begun production of a 512-Mbit phase-change random access memory and is aiming it at mobile phone handsets and other battery-operated applications.
If Samsung can follow through into high-volume manufacture quickly it will have jumped ahead of Numonyx BV (Geneva, Switzerland), a joint venture between Intel and STMicroelectronics, which is the other leading advocate of phase-change memory.
Samsung and memory specialist Numonyx expect that the non-volatile memory will provide superior density to flash memory and scalability along with high performance and low power consumption. However the technology has taken a long time to develop and, for example, Samsung first announced a prototype 512-Mbit phase-change RAM in September 2006.
Samsung claims that by using phase-change PRAM (PRAM), the battery life of a handset can be extended over 20 percent, compared with other memory options.
The move to PRAM production was announced at the Samsung Mobile Solutions Forum held at the Westin Taipei Hotel. Samsung said that its 512-Mbit PRAM can erase 64-kilowords in 80 milliseconds, more than 10 times faster than NOR flash memory. In 5-Mbytes data blocks can be erased and rewritten approximately seven-times faster than in NOR flash, Samsung said.
Samsung's first phase-change memory is produced using a 60-nanometer manufacturing process. "Finer technology nodes will be applied in future-generations of PRAM to expedite further commercial adoption," the company said in a statement.
"We believe PRAM will make a highly significant contribution to the efficiency of mobile phone designs, particularly for multimedia handsets and smartphones," said Sei-Jin Kim, vice president, mobile memory planning and enabling group, Memory Division, Samsung Electronics. "We expect it to become one of our core memory products in the future."
Samsung did not indicate which wafer fab it using for production.
Related links and articles:
Numonyx, Samsung co-operate on phase-change memory
Numonyx rolls early access program for PCM
Numonyx begins commercial supply of phase-change memory
The basics of phase-change memory