Samsung sees NAND flash memory chips doing a lot more than just providing storage for iPod music players this year.

It expects to see the technology employed within desktop and notebook computers in future as capacities grow and flash emerges beyond its present traditional use as storage.

Flash my cache

2006 will see flash memory used as cache to speed up applications and save battery life in notebooks, and also see its use as an alternative for hard drives in some devices.

Apple is rumoured to be preparing to use flash in some future laptops.

Flash used as writing cache inside a notebook could save users up to 30-minutes of battery life, the company said.

Such use could also speed up PC boot up times by up to 8.5 seconds and launch frequently-used programs much faster than opening them from the hard disk, he said.

Flash my drive

The company's Solid State Disk, which is based on NAND flash and currently boasts 16GBof storage, is already going into notebook PCs, blade servers and workstations, among other devices, and as storage space grows, SSDs could challenge hard disks.

Samsung is presently mass-producing 4GB NAND flash memory. Early this year, it will ramp up production of 8GB chips, and by late 2006, 16GB NAND will be in mass production.

DVD replacement in a flash

The company also expects MMCs (Multi Media Cards) that take on a few major jobs the memory can perform, including taking on DVDs as a medium to deliver full-length movies and finding a home in more cellular handsets.

"You'll certainly see (MMC) sockets on a lot more handsets this year," said Don Barnetson, associate director of flash marketing at Samsung Semiconductor. The sockets, or MMC drives, will give users more memory for songs they're listening to and photos they're taking with their cellular handsets.

Copyright protection is a major hurdle for technology companies in gaining the backing of content providers such as movie industry companies and music labels. Samsung has built a secure MMC that holds a song file as well as the license for the file to meet the requirement.

For consumers, the use of MMCs would enable them to use their content in multiple devices. "It's yours rather than your device's," Barnetson said. "It liberates the content."

For a long time, memory cards didn't provide enough storage space for full-length movies, but they do now, the company explained. With 4GB flash memory already widely-used, it is worth noting that current-generation DVDs have only 4.7GB capacities.