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AMD builds in more flash memory

The company is expanding the variety of chips based on its new MirrorBit technology, which allows twice as much data to be stored on devices.

Advanced Micro Devices is expanding the variety of chips based on its flash-memory technology that allows twice as much data to be stored on cell phones and other consumer electronics devices.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker said Tuesday that it's sending samples of its MirrorBit flash chips to engineers in 16-, 32-, 128- and 256-megabit densities. The company currently offers a 64-megabit chip based on MirrorBit, which stores 2 bits of data per cell--flash memory's smallest unit of data storage--instead of the typical 1 bit.

AMD said it's expanding its MirrorBit products at both the high end and the low end to keep up with the call for more complex features in devices including cell phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants).

"Demand for advanced features in a variety of consumer electronic products is really driving the need for innovative technology," Bertrand Cambou, AMD Memory Group vice president, said in a statement.

Flash memory is used to store data in cell phones, PDAs and networking equipment. The memory is especially suitable for cell phones and PDAs because it continues to store data even when its power supply is turned off.

Creating new renditions of flash memory is an important move for AMD. The chipmaker gets most of its revenue from the sale of flash memory and PC processors such as the Athlon XP. The company has sold large numbers of PC chips in the last several quarters, but it has only recently begun to recover from the communications market bust of 2001, which hurt sales of its flash memory chips.

AMD said the higher-density chips allow device makers to offer more features such as color screens, multiple languages, pictures and Internet access. The company said the chips also would allow industrial customers to offer more efficient networking equipment.

AMD said it is expanding into lower density MirrorBit chips to target makers of systems that don't require a lot of memory, such as fuel efficiency or emissions systems in cars.

The company plans to begin volume shipments of the new devices in the first quarter of next year.