Tech Industry

Toshiba's chip package aims for slimmer phones

The electronics maker unveils a chip package for cell phones that can hold up to nine chips, which the company says will give manufacturers greater flexibility when building handhelds.

Toshiba has unveiled a chip package for cell phones that can hold up to nine chips, which the company says will give manufacturers greater flexibility when building handhelds.

The multichip package measures only 1.4-millimeters high but can hold a variety of chips, including NAND flash (for storing data), NOR flash (for storing code), and other types of memory. Current Toshiba packages can hold up to six stacked chips.

Designing chip packages--those plastic and metal sleeves that you see when you crack open a PC or cell phone--has become increasingly important in the past few years as components and the devices that contain them have shrunk. The package controls the flow of electricity to and from a processor and keeps it attached to a circuit board.

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Cell phones are also memory hogs, which puts a premium on conserving space through crafty packaging. The amount of memory put into handsets doubles every 15 months and the pace will continue to accelerate as manufacturers and carriers add features. Samsung, for instance, plans to bring , a hit in Korea, to the United States in the second quarter.

Last year, Intel announced that it would start producing multichip modules for phones that could hold up to 1 gigabit (or four chips) in the first quarter of this year. Both Intel and Toshiba have to shave the back of their chips to keep the height on the package low.

Tessera, a small company specializing in packages, went public in November at $13 a share. Shares now trade above $19. Toshiba is a licensee of Tessera's technology, but said it developed the nine-chip package on its own.