RealTime IT News

AMD Flashes its Bluetooth Smile

Semiconductor maker AMD Wednesday unveiled a new low voltage Flash memory unit designed for mobile devices and PDAs.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker said its 8-Megabit Am29SL800D -- part of its AM29SL Flash memory product line -- focuses on Bluetooth and Global Positioning System (GPS) modules.

"Consumers are expecting more from portable electronics, including advanced Bluetooth and GPS capabilities, but they're unwilling to accept side effects such as reduced battery life," Ian Williams, vice president of customer operations for AMD's Memory Group said in a statement.

The new memory boasts initial read access times of 90 nanoseconds and even faster single-word write times. The chipmaker also says its 1.8-Volt Flash memory device require as little as one-fifth of the standby current and one-half of the read current. The FBGA packaging (as small as 6 x 8 mm) is being priced at $1.30 each in quantities of 10,000.

"While other Flash memory suppliers have chosen to reduce their low-density product portfolio or withdrawn entirely from some low densities, AMD continues to develop products for our customers centered on specialized market needs," Williams said. "We developed the industry's first 1.8-Volt Flash memory device family in 1997, and the Am29SL800D is proof of our continuing commitment to low-density innovation."

AMD has been redoubling its efforts in the Flash space of late. The company recently announced a $2.5 billion deal with Fujitsu to build a new Flash memory chip spin-off known as Fujitsu AMD Semiconductor Limited (FASL) complete with a production facility in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Japan. Two-thirds of AMD's revenue comes from its processors. One-third comes from its Flash memory business. Even with the help of Fujitsu, AMD still lags well behind rival Intel holds 27 percent of the Flash market.

Despite its market lead, AMD and others catching up, according to a study published Wednesday by Phoenix-based Semico Research. The firm found the AMD-Fujitsu collaboration may offer a very viable cost per bit advantage and reasonable performance. The two companies are pushing MBC (multibit cell) structures, which could be very competitive products to Intel's StrataFlash. In addition, the NOR Flash market may come under attack from NAND flash memory.

And while there is great demand for them, Flash chips are increasing becoming a commodity. The market for Flash memory in 2001 was an estimated $10 billion. The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization said last week that sensors, digital signal processors and flash memory are expected to show the highest growth rates in 2003, well above 25 percent. Semico estimates the Flash market will grow from just over the $5 billion mark now to a more than $29 billion industry in 2007.

To heed the call for Flash, AMD offers several memory products, such as devices based on the MirrorBit architecture; its simultaneous read-write (SRW) product family; a super low voltage 1.8 V Flash memory devices; and burst- and page-mode devices. AMD's other advancements in Flash include its Known Good Die (KGD) program, negative gate erase technology, and developed highly reliable Fine-pitch Ball Grid Array (FBGA) packaging.