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Friday, April 08, 2005
Intel boosts flash-memory densities

Intel is taking its StrataFlash technology to the next level with the introduction of new flash memory products aimed at embedded applications in markets ranging from consumer electronics to wired communications.

The company's StrataFlash Embedded Memory portfolio includes a wide range of densities, from 64 MB to 1 GB, to meet the demands of manufacturers requiring an array of power levels for devices such as digital cameras, mobile phones and network routers, said company spokesperson Mary Ragland.

Developed by Intel, NOR flash technology -- or "not-or," a relatively new flash technology for increasing chip densities -- is a rewritable memory chip that stores content without power, making it a good choice for embedded applications and mobile devices that are routinely powered off and on.

Intel's fourth-generation Multi-Level Cell technology -- the basis for the new NOR flash products -- delivers two bits of information in each memory cell, enabling smaller die sizes and higher densities.

The StrataFlash Embedded Memory is offered in multiple packaging designs, Ragland said, with faster access times, improved security features and low voltage requirements for extended battery life. It will be included in Intel's next-generation Spartan3E reference design kit.

New products with densities of 64 MB to 512 MB will be available in the second quarter of 2005. The 1-GB density device will be available in the second half of 2005.

Intel is neck-and-neck with AMD in the growing flash-memory market, where sales reached some US$16.6 billion in 2004, up from $11.64 billion in 2003 according to market researcher iSuppli. Revenue is projected to grow another 5 percent in 2005 to $17.5 billion.

AMD and Fujitsu, through the joint venture Spansion, hold a 24 percent share of the NOR flash market, with $845.7 million. But Intel is not far behind, with 23.2 percent of the market at $785.4 million. ISuppli projects that NOR flash memory will account for 80 percent of the handset market by 2008.

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