RealTime IT News

Spansion Has Single-Chip Flash For Cellular

Flash memory developer Spansion has combined three of its memory architectures onto one die, which will mean lower power consumption and expanded memory for cell phones.

Spansion  began as a joint effort by AMD  and Fujitsu, but spun off on its own in December 2005. Its new MirrorBit Eclipse architecture combines three existing Spansion products – MirrorBit NOR, ORNAND and Quad Flash memory – onto a single die 65nm die.

"What this chip delivers is a lower cost phone, or what's more likely, more capabilities at the same price point," John Nation, director of corporate marketing for Spansion told internetnews.com. "The industry tends to market phones at $49 or $149 price points. With Eclipse, we're offering more storage and more flexible storage at lower price points with greater flexibility."

The company predicts that cell phone handset OEMs  can save up to 30 percent or more on their handset memory subsystems bill of materials costs, while gaining flexibility in their designs due to the smaller space requirements.

Nation said that for a long time there were two usage models for the cell phone: in use, or off/standby mode. Now there's a third model where people want to use their phones as MP3 and video playback devices, e-mail send and retrieval, and PDA functionality.

All of this requires DRAM to be in the phone for execution. However, DRAM is a bigger power drain than Flash. Spansion's XIP (execute-in-place) technology allows handset OEMs to reduce the amount of DRAM needed in the system. By using the 2 bit-per-cell or 4-bit-per-cell approach, greater storage efficiency can be obtained in the same amount of Flash memory.

Iain Gillott, president of iGR, a market research firm covering wireless technologies, said no one has ever tried to combine these Flash technologies into a single chip, which will help create more advanced phones.

"They're not just throwing some components together," Gillott told internetnews.. "They're basically saying the features in smart phones are going to make up a lot more of the market going forward. Consumers will want faster storage and apps are going to be more advanced. That I can't argue with."

Spansion expects its first silicon will be available in the third quarter with the first phone products to incorporate the new architecture available to consumers sometime next year. Spansion expects to move to 45nm production in 2008.