Numonyx, Hynix Strike Memory Development Deal

Numonyx and Hynix, which both make NAND flash memory, sign a five-year joint development agreement to develop memory and storage technology for a range of mobile devices, such as cell phones, as well as develop new technology for solid state drives (SSDs). Intel spun off Numonyx earlier this year.

Numonyx and Hynix are teaming up to develop new types of NAND flash memory technology for use in a wide range of mobile products and wireless devices, such as cell phones.

The two companies announced the five-year pact Aug. 6, and the agreement calls for Numonyx, a new company formed earlier this year when Intel spun off its NOR memory business, and Hynix to share the financial and research burden of developing new types NAND flash memory, which is used in a range of devices, such as SSDs (solid state drives).

In addition to NAND technology, the two companies plan to enhance the mobile DRAM (dynamic RAM) used in cell phones. Numonyx and Hynix already have a manufacturing facility in China that is developing mobile DRAM on a 300-millimeter manufacturing process that will create new type of low-power memory chips for use in cell phones and other mobile devices. Other mobile devices that could use these memory chips include the types of MIDs, or mobile Internet devices, that Intel and Nvidia each are trying to develop with OEM partners.

While NAND flash technology has been used as the main memory component to store data in devices such as MP3 music players, NOR technology has been used more in devices such as cell phones. Numonyx, which also plans to develop new types of software as part of the agreement, makes both NAND and NOR storage products, while Hynix works primarily with NAND flash memory and DRAM technology.

The partnership comes at a time when enterprise users, as well as consumers, are increasingly turning to a range of mobile devices such as smart phones -- especially in the wake of the success of the Apple iPhone -- and laptops for their everyday computing needs. At the same time, users are putting more data on each device, increasing the need for more and better storage technology.

The pact also allows Numonyx and Hynix to share the expense of new manufacturing methods as these types of memory chips are developed on smaller and smaller lithography nodes.

In one way, both companies are playing a bit of catch-up with some of the other major players in the market. In May, Intel and Micron Technology announced a joint venture that promises to skip a generation and shrink their NAND technology from 52 to 34 nanometers.

Samsung currently is considered the top producer of NAND flash memory and devices such as SSD that are used in a range of laptops.