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Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. of Korea has revealed it already started shipping a phase change random access memory (PRAM) sample for assessment. The company said it has offered 256 to 512 Mb, 90-nm node product to several major mobile pone manufacturers. Toward the volume production slated for the first half of 2008, the company intends to start shipping an engineering sample in the April-to-June 2007 quarter and a commercial sample by the end of 2007.

Volume production set for 1H of 2008 to meet "rather strong demands"

PRAM, of which Samsung has started sample shipments, is expected to replace NOR flash memory used in mobile phones. PRAM's writing speed is faster than NOR flash's, which benefits mobile phone manufacturers in that time required to write programs before shipments is shortened, among other advantages. According to a Samsung Japan Corp.'s spokesperson, "Demand for PRAM is quite strong from mobile phone manufactures," and, in a bid to meet such request, the company started around the end of 2006 sample shipments for performance test as "a step before an engineering sample" (Samsung Japan). The sample is a 90-nm node product using 200-mm wafer. The company announced the process technology introduced for this sample at the "2006 IEDM" event.

Samsung leads the NAND flash memory market, but it lags behind Spansion Inc. and Intel Corp. in the NOR flash memory market. Samsung only started mass-production of 90-nm node NOR flash memory in the second half of 2006, falling behind leading companies including Intel, which started 65-nm node product around the same time. Based on these circumstances, Samsung aims to "win employment ahead of other manufacturers to gain an upper hand in the market for PRAM (toward an alternative to NOR flash)," said the company spokesperson. Among NOR flash manufacturers, Intel has specified its intention to ship a 90-nm node PRAM sample for assessment in the January-to-March 2007 quarter.