BOISE, Idaho ( ChipWire/EET) -- Micron Technology Inc. here has announced a modified flash memory architecture that uses standard DRAM packaging, and is designed as a DRAM replacement. The company took the wraps off its SyncFlash design at the fall Comdex show in Las Vegas last week, and is positioning the technology for a variety of handheld consumer devices and other embedded applications.
"This chip is supposed to be as much like a DRAM as possible," said Kevin Widmer, strategic marketing manager for flash memory at Micron. "It uses the same TSOP packaging and the same DRAM interface."
SyncFlash has been designed for systems that use flash chips to store code, but transfer the code to DRAM and then execute it from the main memory. By moving the flash chip onto the main memory bus, designers can eliminate some of the DRAM chips, saving both money and board space, according to Micron. The systems can also activate the code faster from the flash chip if it doesn't have to move the commands to another part of the system. "This can save a lot of time," Widmer said.
Micron plans to price the chips slightly higher than DRAM devices, but below most flash chips. Unlike DRAM, with its ever-fluctuating prices, Micron said SyncFlash chips will have fixed pricing schedules. The company will sample the parts next quarter, and is scheduling volume production for the third quarter of next year.
Given its DRAM legacy, Widmer stressed that Micron looks for parts that it can sell in very high volume. To drive SyncFlash into those volumes, Micron plans to license the design to other manufacturers at "very affordable" rates. "Our intent is to remove all the barriers to creating the widest appeal for this that we can," said Widmer. The first chip will be a 64-megabit, 100-MHz part, with 133-MHz devices coming in the future.
"From the front end of the chip, it looks just like a DRAM, and it can do all the functions of a DRAM," Widmer said. "It will usually act like a DRAM, but when it needs to, the system can access the flash functions as well."