December 8, 2005 – Intel and STMicroelectronics have developed a common flash memory subsystem aimed at creating a “second source” for 90nm and beyond NOR flash products and subsystems, in order to lower long-term development costs for handsets and mobile phones.
The two companies have collaborated on the design of 90nm multilevel cell NOR flash, providing standardized memory systems that are hardware- and software-compatible, and are working on codefining next-generation features, interfaces, and packages for 65nm devices in 2006. Intel and ST will be on the same page with common device specs, including packaging-related parameters and future package-on-package designs that stack logic-based devices with memory chips, although they will separately design and manufacture their own NOR flash devices.
Mark DeVoss, senior analyst at iSuppli, noted that the deal is a positive development for NOR flash market, as a big step toward commoditization. “From the beginning, NOR parts from various suppliers hve been different enough that true second sourcing wasn’t possible,” he said, in a statement. Providing devices with identical key parameters makes it easier and less stressful for system designers or procurement managers to make the decision to use a NOR-type flash device from either Intel or STMicroelectronics.”
Ed Doller, CTO for Intel’s flash products group, noted that the partnership made sense because the two companies “had fairly reasonable alignment from a roadmap standpoint” — and also, “from a floating-gate NOR standpoint, there are not that many players left in the industry.”