Samsung Electronics has applied state-of-the-art 0.15-micron design rule to develop the smallest 512Mb NAND-type flash memory chip. In addition, this chip is the industry’s highest capacity monolithic die and when two 512Mb flash memory dies are stacked as a dual-die device, Samsung can provide a chip with a memory capacity of 1Gb. Samsung expects to greatly raise its competitiveness in the flash memory market through these recent developments.
Last year, Samsung developed a 256Mb Flash Memory chip using 0.18-micron design rule and just six months later, enhanced its capability to employ 0.15-micron technology. Development of a high-coupling ratio cell decreased the high voltage necessary for programming, thus it not only improved crucial programming performance by 30%, but also paved the way for further scaling of design rule to 0.12-micron. Importantly, the number of mask layers, a key determinant of production cost, is believed to be less than competing flash memory devices.
Samsung plans to target the new chips at makers of high-performance digital cameras, MP3 players, digital TVs and third-generation (3G) mobile phones. The new flash memory chip can also be used with portable products such as PDAs, Palm PCs and sub-notebook PCs as a high-density storage device, in place of a hard disk drive. Due to their higher power-consumption, larger size and higher sensitivity to shock and vibration, hard disk drives are typically not used in these handheld products.
Flash memory is divided into NOR devices for storing executable codes and NAND devices for storing data. Samsung Electronics currently occupies around 40% of the world market for data storage flash memory devices.
The world market for NAND-type flash memory chips is estimated at US$1.1 billion in 2000 and according to Semico Reseach, it is expected to continue to expand about 71% annually to reach US$5.5 billion by 2003. This is seen as the fastest growing segment of the semiconductor industry.
Samsung Electronics has shipped samples of the 512Mb flash memory device and plans to start up full-scale production in the third quarter of this year. The company expects sales to reach US$800 million in 2001.