Samsung has unveiled a new kind memory chip, 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.
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 512M-bit capacity, the same as the
prototype it showed off on Monday.