TOKYO Fujitsu Ltd. has pepped up its NOR flash product line, doubling unit density to 128 Mbits as it begins to transition its flash memory to 0.17-micron process technology in cooperation with Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
Fujitsu has also doubled the chip's data bus width from 8 bits/16 bits on 64-Mbit devices to 16 bits/32 bits for its latest parts to keep pace with the growing processing speeds and image storing needs of car-navigation systems, printers and mobile phones. But the main target of the wider bus is picture storage in mobile phones, both 2.5-G and 3G models, sales of which are expected to take of in Japan next year, said Takanori Jinno, director of Fujitsu's business promotion division.
The new chip incorporates page-mode and dual operation functionality, and its 25-nanosecond page-mode read speed is an unrivaled feature at that density, Jinno claimed.
"The 64 Mbit stores a lot fewer images, and the new bit width makes it the fastest 128 Mbit in the world," he said.
Access times for standard address are 70 ns or 80 ns, and 25 ns or 30 ns for paged. The flash has a standby power consumption of 5 microamps, and consumes 60 mA in read mode and 35 mA in write mode, Fujitsu said. The chips will be available in shrink small-outline packages and fine-pitch ball grid arrays.
The adoption of the dual operation function allows the chip to simultaneously perform read/write/erase operations while an acceleration feature allows faster writing of large data volumes onto the flash prior to mounting on a printed-circuit board, Jinno said. The acceleration feature shortens data-write time when applying high voltage, he said.
The chips also include hidden read-only memory, write protection and new sector protection, which makes it possible to protect all sectors of the chip and preserve the data already written there by entering a set command, Jinno said.
Fujitsu started sampling the chip Thursday (Nov. 15) and plans to go into volume production of about a million units a month in March 2002 at the JV3 fabrication facility of Fujitsu-AMD Semiconductor Ltd. in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan. The fab began producing 64-Mbit dual operation flash chips earlier this month.
Most of Fujitsu's NOR flash is currently produced on 0.23-micron technology, and the company seeks to move more of its production onto the cheaper 0.17-micron technology, but "has no fixed schedule" to do so, Jinno said.
While NAND flash has started to populate more applications, NOR-type flash has traditionally amounted to about 85-to-90 percent of the entire flash market. Last year worldwide flash sales shot up 135 percent to about $10.6 billion, spurred by massive orders for use in mobile phones. Earlier this month Intel Corp. started sampling 0.13-micron flash, positioning the company for a possible minor recovery of the flash market as this year's huge inventory of 73 million unsold cell phones begins to work itself down.
Sketching Fujitsu's plans for the finer process technology, Jinno said, "We're not near mass production at that 0.13-micron process yet, but I can say we are heading in that direction. But as to a time frame, nothing has been decided yet."