NEC and Samsung have each announced the development of new devices that should enable designers to make portable electronics devices even smaller.
NEC said it has developed a new type of liquid crystal display panel that requires one-fifth the number of connecting wires that a current display does, while Samsung said it has succeeded in cramming a microprocessor and two types of memory into a single-chip package.
On its own, each development only means a slight reduction in space requirements, but taken together and combined with constant advances in other technologies they should add up to smaller or more feature-rich products in the future.
The new NEC display cuts down on the number of connections needed to the rest of the device by switching from a parallel interface, where several data signals each have their own connector, to a serial interface, where the signals share the same connector.
Serial display interfaces are not new, said NEC spokeswoman Seiko Yabuuchi. They are commonly used on larger panels, but their use has been limited because they consume more power than equivalent parallel interface panels and power consumption becomes a problem when batteries are being used, such as on a portable device.
The new interface requires one third the power of the serial interfaces used in large displays, making it suitable for use with mobile devices, said Yabuuchi. NEC did not compare the power consumption with that of similar small displays using parallel interfaces. By making the displays with fewer connections, NEC says it is able to cut the amount of interference picked up along the cables by 90 percent.
NEC expects to begin producing the displays in the second half of this year at a price roughly equivalent to that of existing displays.
Samsung announced development of a chip that combines a processor core designed by ARM, flash memory and SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) in a single package. The chip is intended for use in products such as advanced mobile phone handsets and PDAs and can enable designers to cut one or two chips from their design thus allowing more compact devices to be made.
The new chip, 'Oyster', measures 17mm square and is 1.4mm high and includes a 206MHz ARM920T processor core, 32MB of Nand flash memory and 32MB of SDRAM.