Samsung claims memory chip speed breakthrough

A prototype fusion memory, OneDRAM, can move data up to five times faster than conventional memory, company claims

Samsung Electronics claims to have developed a prototype fusion memory chip that can speed data transfers by up to five times. The device could significantly increase speeds in mobile applications, a key target market for Samsung, a company executive said.

The technology, OneDRAM, is intended for use in a wide variety of devices, including mobile handsets and games consoles, but also in any device that will offer 3D graphics. OneDRAM was announced by the chief executive of Samsung semiconductors, Dr Chang-Gyu Hwang at the International Electron Device Meeting in San Francisco on Monday.

The 133MHz, 512Mb device sharply increases data-transfer speed between processors, the company said. Increasingly the requirements of multimedia applications and features demand the use of two separate processors — one for communications and one to handle the media itself. OneDRAM channels data between the processors through a single chip, which speeds up the process.

The key advantage of fusion processors is that cutting down the number of processors required cuts down the distance data has to travel, and so improves speeds. It also results in a reduction in power consumption by up to one third, the company claims. When this is combined with a reduction in the total surface area of the chips by 50 percent, the result is a five-times increase in the speed of mobile phones, the company said.

The smaller and fewer processors are also easier to incorporate into smaller devices, such as mobile phones.

Fusion processors such as the Samsung OneDRAM, and others such as the AMD Fusion, typically combine the general processing of a computer together with a 3D processor — two functions that have been done by two or more separate processors in the past. The AMD Fusion is expected to debut in its finished state in 2008 but Samsung reckons the OneDRAM will arrive a year earlier, in the second half of 2007.

In his keynote speech, Dr Hwang also said that the current era of electronic advancement would be known as "the fusion era".  It will be massive in scope, he said, and would "encompass the fields of information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology and will create boundless opportunities for new growth to the semiconductor industry".