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New Samsung chip to double storage in consumer products

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Sept 12,2005
Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s second-largest chipmaker, announced that it is preparing for mass production of a 16-gigabit NAND flash memory chip next year. The 16-gigabit capacity is double the size of the largest flash memory now on the market. “In the near future, flash memory will completely replace all portable storage devices ― film, tapes, disk drives and CDs,” said Hwang Chang-gyu, head of Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor business division, at a press conference in central Seoul yesterday. Mr. Hwang said that an array of 16 such chips, or a total of 32 gigabytes of storage, could hold up to 20 DVD-quality film files, 8,000 MP3 compressed music files or 200 years of a 40-page daily newspaper. The new chip will use a 50-nanometer technology to double the available storage in a space much less than twice the size. Fifty nanometers is roughly 2000 times thinner than a human hair; the number refers to the width of the electrical traces that carry signals between the 14.6 billion transistors on each of the chips. The industry has managed to increase the size of high-end flash memory chips from 256 megabits in 1999 to 512 megabits the following year and on to 8 gigabits this year. Unlike random access memory chips, used for a computer’s memory, flash memory chips retain the information when power is removed . Mr. Hwang said that the new chip will spur the move from older types of storage devices in digital video cameras, portable music players and even in computers. Flash memory, for example, when be used in laptop computers will allow the machine to boot in less than 20 seconds. That memory uses only a tenth of the power required for mini-hard drives often used in portable devices. He said that Samsung would unveil a new laptop computer late this month that will use 8-gigabit chips now in production and boasting 16 gigabytes of memory. Sales of NAND flash memory chips will climb from about $7 billion last year to $10.1 billion this year and $14 billion in 2010, Mr. Hwang forecast during his presentation. NAND chips are one of two varieties of flash memory on the market, and the variety in which Samsung has about 80 percent of the global market. Mr. Hwang said that rising demand for existing chips will probably boost Samsung to a record sales performance in the third quarter. Apple Computer’s launch of a new MP3 player, the iPod nano, using flash memory will also keep prices of those chips firm, Mr. Hwang added. He said the global market for all semiconductor chips would grow 5 percent this year, but predicted that Samsung’s growth in chip sales would “far exceed” that figure. He said total sales of chips next year would hit about $49.7 billion, and that Samsung’s sales of NAND flash memory would increase by about 50 percent this year, to $6.4 billion. During the press conference, Samsung also announced the production of a new CMOS image sensor and chips that combine memory and processors. by Seo Ji-eun


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