AMD adds new low-power flash memory chip

AMD adds new low-power flash memory chip

Advanced Micro Devices has introduced a low-power flash memory chip that will allow handheld and cell phone makers to cut their devices' power consumption.

The 64-megabit Am29BDS640G chip runs on only 1.8 volts of electricity, which extends battery life, AMD said. This also allows manufacturers to use faster CPUs and other power-hungry components in forthcoming cell phones for advanced networks.

This chip is AMD's lowest-power chip for cell phones and handheld portable devices, and it consumes 95 per cent less power in standby mode than competing flash memory products, according to Bharath Rangarajan, marketing manager for AMD's memory group. While accessing information in run mode, the chip still uses less power than other competing chips on the market from Intel and STMicroelectronics.

Flash memory is non-volatile memory, which means it can store information even without an electrical current running through the chip. Users can store phone numbers, calendars, and other information that is automatically saved without having to use a storage device like a hard drive.

Cell phones are in standby mode most of the time they are switched on, said Rangarajan, which makes reducing power during that time especially helpful. The key in keeping power consumption low is to reduce the time a cell phone needs to switch from standby or "sleep" mode to an active and data-processing mode, he said.

The chip is available in a multi-chip package, bundling flash memory with 8-megabit or 16-megabit SRAM (static RAM) chips, or just as the base flash memory chip. This allows personal digital assistant and cell phone manufacturers to design products that are smaller and lighter by reducing the space required by a separate flash and SRAM setup, AMD said.

Flash memory represents 29 per cent of AMD's revenue, according to information on its Web site. The company recently announced an agreement with Fujitsu and Saifun Semiconductors to collaborate on flash memory chip development, signalling AMD's desire to bolster its flash-memory product lines even further amid increased pressure from industry-leading chipmaker Intel on the desktop chip front.

Intel manufactures a similar flash memory device that runs at 1.8 volts, but is available in three different densities, 32-megabit, 64-megabit, and 128-megabit. It also supports processors at speeds of up to 66MHz.

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