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Standard makes memory flashier

The Japanese and American chip makers agree on flash memory, if not trade.

They can't come to terms on trade agreements, but at least the Japanese and American chip makers can agree on flash memory.

Japan's Sharp and Fujitsu and America's AMD and Intel have all agreed to standardize the software used to run flash memory chips, a type of semiconductor that stores data even when a device is disconnected from a power supply.

The standardization, called Common Flash Memory Interface, should make it easier for developers to design electronic devices that use flash memory, thereby making flash memory devices more ubiquitous and cheaper. Flash memory is commonly used in laptop computers, cellular phones, and other portable devices but stands to be in even greater demand as more digital devices emerge.

The Sharp-Intel alliance controls about 45 percent of the world's $1.3 billion flash market, according to a Bloomberg news service report. Fujitsu-AMD has the second largest share, giving the four companies close to 80 percent control of the world market.

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