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Intel Flash For The Low-Cost Cell Phone

Over a billion people use cell phones worldwide. But don't tell Intel that's a big number.

The chip giant introduced new Flash memory products aimed at expanding the number of cell phone users. Noting recent stats from the cell phone industry's GSM Association, Intel said cell phones are "only" used by 20 percent of the world's population.

Intel  said its latest NOR Flash memory  dovetails with phone companies' efforts to grow cell phone use by lowering what's considered a major obstacle -- cell phone costs.

Intel's products for the low-cost handset market include cost-efficient, lower-density NOR Flash memory products from 32Mb to 256Mb with optional RAM in a multi-chip package.

They also include a new pin-sharing package to minimize pin count and are configured to work with low-cost, single-chip baseband and RF solutions from leading chipset suppliers, the company said.

"Our new product aligns nicely with some of the new low-end baseband  chipsets from the top chipset suppliers," Allen Holmes, worldwide director of marketing for Intel's NOR products group, told internetnews.com.

Holmes also said Intel is moving its current 130-nanometer manufacturing process to a more efficient, cost-saving 90nm process and eventually to 65nm over the next year and a half.

The cost savings will be one part of helping cell-phone makers produce more affordable phones that may not have all the bells and whistles of many of today's popular models.

"We could be talking about a black and white display or no display," said Holmes. He added that the free phones with basic functionality that are sometimes offered when you buy three of the more expensive ones are another opportunity.

"Lower-cost phones are a global play and the BOM [bill of materials] costs of producing a phone are coming down," Holmes added.

"I think the OEMs are configuring for the emerging markets and also how to reduce costs in the highly mature markets regardless of geography."

To enable accelerated design cycles, Intel offers a portable Low-Cost Handset Design Kit, which includes a design guide, product datasheets and migration guides.

In June, Intel announced it had sold its communications and applications processor business to its Santa Clara, Calif., neighbor, Marvel Technology Group, for $600 million.

Marvell gains processors for handheld devices, including those based on Intel's XScale technology.