Samsung Unveils New Kind of Memory

Samsung Electronics unveiled a new kind of memory chip Monday, PRAM (phase-change RAM), aimed at replacing NOR flash memory in mobile phones.

The new kind of chip, which will be commercially available in 2008, combines the faster data transfer speeds of DRAM (dynamic RAM) with the ability to retain data after power is shut off in a device, similar to flash memory. PRAM is effectively 30-times faster than flash memory, easier to manufacture, and will have a life span 10 times longer, Samsung said.

Serious Competition

Samsung will have to compete against Intel and Spansion, the two biggest makers of NOR flash memory, with PRAM. NOR is popular in mobile phones for its ability to quickly launch software programs. Most handsets contain NOR and NAND flash, the more popular flash memory valued for its ability to store huge amounts of data, such as songs, videos and photos.

But PRAM will also have to compete with a host of other types of memory used in mobile phones, including DRAM, which costs less than most other memory chips due to its widespread use in PCs and video game consoles.

Samsung plans to launch PRAM initially in a 512-megabit capacity, the same as the prototype it showed off on Monday.

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