Siemems Microelectronics Inc has been working with Flash memory company SanDisk Inc and come out with what the two claim to be the world’s smallest removable solid state memory technology for portable products – and signed up LM Ericsson AB, Nokia Oy, Motorola Inc and Qualcomm Inc in support. The MultiMedia Card, or MMC, is a memory card the size of a postage stamp, 32mm x 24mm x 1.4mm, currently storing up to 10Mb, and has an integrated serial interface, making it easy to install. The card is aimed at usage in mobile phones, pagers, laptops, automotive applications, industrial handheld devices, and consumer products such as cameras and solid state music playback. SanDisk will manufacture the Flash version of the product, while Siemens will concentrate on ROM read-only memory versions. It uses ultra high density cell design with vertical transistor technology, new three-dimensional fabrication methods which, says Siemens, enables production costs to be halved in comparison to conventional ROM technology. Siemens says it expects to be able to quadruple the storage capacity every year, planning a 128Mb MultiMediaCard by 2001. The growing mobile phone applications market is seen as one of the key drivers for the new part, where internal databases are needed to store directory information, area guides, games and communications applications on portable devices. The supporting companies, along with Siemens’ own Private Communications Systems division, all say they will use the MMC in future products, and that’s enough to consitute an industry standard, say the two originators. MMC supports various small-footprint operating systems, including Windows CE. Flash versions in 2Mb or 4Mb sizes will sample in January. 2MB ROM versions are available now, with 8Mb versions due to begin sampling in January. 10Mb versions are also promised. Prices for high volumes start at $4.50 for the 2Mb ROM, $26 for 2MB, Flash.
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