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Samsung Unveils New Flash Memory Chip

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics Co. introduced a high-capacity flash memory chip on Monday that could let Apple Computer Inc. and other makers of portable electronic devices pack more data into less failure-prone gadgets.

The 16-gigabit NAND flash memory chip, equivalent to 2 gigabytes of storage, doubles a chip Samsung introduced last September.

Demand for such chips is currently "explosively strong" and is expected to remain strong throughout next year, said Chang-Gyu Hwang, president of the company's semiconductor operations.

Samsung's flash business is already getting a big boost from Apple's new flash memory-based iPod Nano music players, announced last week and due in 2-gigabyte and 4-gigabyte versions. The Nano will replace Apple's hard drive-based iPod Mini line.

Apple is a major purchaser of Samsung flash memory. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on whether the company plans to use the chip in future iPods.

The development means more mobile devices can use flash memory rather than hard drives, which can fail if dropped suddenly or produce skips in music if used in high-motion activities such as running. Flash memory also is lighter and more energy-efficient.

By putting together 16 of the new NAND chips it's possible to create a 32-gigabyte product that can store 8,000 MP3 audio files or 20 DVD movies.

"You will be able to take your entire music and personal video libraries with you," said Hwang.

Samsung, the largest producer of NAND and DRAM memory chips, said it plans to begin mass-producing the new chips in the second half of 2006.

Flash memory, which can save data even when power is switched off, is most often used in electronic devices such as MP3 players, digital cameras and keychain drives.

DRAM chips, volative memory that loses data when power is switched off, are most widely used in personal computers.