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Breakthrough could boost iPod & iPhone capacities

Samsung develops faster NAND memory chips

Samsung Electronics has developed a chip-manufacturing technique able to significantly increase the amount of music, pictures, videos and other data people can store in future iPods, iPhones and other devices.

The world's largest memory chip maker has demonstrated a 64GB MLC (multilevel cell) NAND flash memory chip made with an entirely new 30-nanometre production technology. A nanometre is a billionth of a meter, and the measure refers to the average size of the smallest features on the chip.

Click here for more on Samsung's 64MB NAND chip

The manufacturing breakthrough, which Samsung calls SaDPT (self-aligned double patterning technology), will enable the company to greatly increase the storage capacity of new NAND flash memory chips once the technology is in commercial production.

For example, 16 of the 64GB chips can be combined in a memory card for 128GB of storage space, enough for 80 DVD movies or 32,000 MP3 music files, the company said.

Even more important for users, Samsung was able to make the technology leap without requiring certain expensive new chip making equipment. While moves to smaller production technologies often require investment in expensive new photolithography equipment, the company was able to use current photolithography gear to etch circuits on the silicon wafers. That should ensure low production costs and reasonable prices for end-users.

SaDPT uses two pattern transfers to create the circuit design of each chip. The first transfer spaces the circuits widely apart, then the second transfer uses that space between the circuits to add another circuit, with the result that the circuitry is more densely packed together.

Samsung has applied for 30 patents related to the new 64GB flash chip, and said it also created a 32GB chip with the same production technology. The company expects to begin mass production of 64GB flash chips with its 30nm manufacturing technology in 2009.


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