Spansion Enters Fast-Growing Serial Flash Memory Market

Posted on Tuesday, November 02 2004 @ 20:14 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Spansion LLC, the Flash memory subsidiary of AMD and Fujitsu, today announced an entirely new Flash memory family designed to reduce costs and dramatically simplify system design of Flash-enabled consumer electronics, PC peripherals, and in-cabin automotive electronics. The new Spansion™ FL Flash memory family enables these improvements by using the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI), an emerging serial communication standard with rapid projected Flash memory market growth from nearly $500 million in 2005 to more than $1 billion in 2007 . The family leverages the company’s proprietary MirrorBit technology and ranges from 1 to 16 megabits (Mb) today, with devices up to 64Mb planned for mid-2005.

“Spansion’s entry into the SPI market provides the critical mass needed to make the interface attractive to system designers who are eager for cost-reduced, low-density Flash-based applications,” said Alan Niebel, CEO of Web-Feet Research. “Spansion is using its industry leadership to provide a trusted, long-term source for customers who will benefit from using serial Flash memory. To support higher density SPI applications, Spansion’s product density roadmap is correctly timed to meet market demands.”

Spansion FL Flash memory products will help designers to develop the next generation of smaller, lower-cost consumer and automotive electronics including DSL and cable modems, DVD/CD players and recorders, optical and hard disk drives, LCD monitors, digital TVs, PC BIOS and printers. Users of these products can enjoy faster boot times enabled by Spansion’s best-in-class operating frequencies up to 50 MHz. To shrink product form factors, SPI enables advanced packaging options that require 80 percent less board space and 75 percent fewer electronic connections than traditional Flash devices in standard TSOP packages.

Serial Flash memory communicates with processors in a different way than traditional parallel Flash memory. Traditional Flash memory inputs or outputs 8, 16, or 32 bits of data simultaneously, but serial Flash memory inputs and outputs only one data bit (a ‘1’ or a ‘0’) at a time. As a result, single-bit input and output simplifies system design and can even lower the cost and complexity of other components. That is why Spansion is actively collaborating with industry-leading chipset vendors, including Conexant and Genesis Microchip, to implement the SPI interface in microprocessors and ASICs.

“Genesis Microchip is very pleased that a leader like Spansion is adding SPI products to its portfolio,” said Anders Frisk, executive vice president of Genesis Microchip, the world’s leading supplier of LCD monitor controllers. “SPI is a promising way for many of our customers to lower the cost and reduce the complexity of system design, and we are working with Spansion to bring those benefits to the global LCD monitor market.”

To further establish MirrorBit technology as an industry standard, Spansion and Saifun Semiconductors (Netanya, Israel) have joined forces to develop the Spansion FL family. Based on a joint collaboration and distribution agreement, Spansion will use its proprietary MirrorBit technology to manufacture product designs created by Saifun. The new product family furthers Spansion’s strategy to enter new markets using the low-cost and other benefits of MirrorBit technology.

“The Spansion FL family and SPI interface are proof that future Flash memory innovations will require Flash vendors to expand their focus beyond the memory itself to the customer’s entire system,” said Sylvia Summers, senior vice president and general manager of Spansion’s Embedded Business Unit. “SPI affects more than just the Flash memory. It enables simpler controllers, ASICs and circuit boards, which combined can lower system costs faster than a memory-only solution. The wide range of SPI products announced today shows our strong commitment to serial Flash memory, and Saifun’s participation in product design increases the industry-wide momentum surrounding MirrorBit technology. Once again, we’ve strengthened our commitment to offering customers the broadest portfolio of relevant products combined with extensive system-level design support.”

For low-density designs, 1 and 2Mb products are currently available in production volumes. Customers are actively sampling 4Mb devices and beginning to sample 16Mb products, and Spansion plans to extend the family to 8, 32 and 64Mb densities in 2005. As applications continue to evolve and memory requirements increase, MirrorBit technology’s proven scalability will enable additional, higher-density solutions.

FL-family products at 1, 2, 4 and 16Mb densities are priced at $0.55, $0.65, $0.85 and $1.45 each in quantities of 10,000. Spansion products are available worldwide from AMD and Futjisu.

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