Multi-Media to Boost Memory Storage
Embedded & removable memory capacity demands for cellular handsets showed a dramatic increase in 2006, primarily driven by consumer interest in music-enabled handsets. Manufacturers are offering several solutions to meet this demand including micro hard disks, embedded NAND flash memory and removable NAND flash memory cards. Despite several prominent announcements regarding handsets with large capacity micro hard-disks in 2006, the overall trend in the handset market has been a continued move towards flash storage. NAND flash is viewed as a better alternative for handsets for several reasons, the most important being its superior shock resistance, and lower battery drain. These traits are especially beneficial in cellular handsets since they are handled frequently and cycle power almost constantly.
Available capacity has continued to increase for micro-drives used in cellular handsets in 2006, with the availability of 2.54cm drives offering up to 8GB of storage. This has encouraged manufacturers such as Samsung and Nokia to introduce handsets utilizing micro-drives. However, rapidly falling prices for NAND flash coupled with dramatic improvements in available capacity has encouraged manufacturers generally to adopt both embedded and removable NAND flash solutions for most requirements. Although large amounts of embedded memory continues to be standard for smartphones, feature phones tend to offer removable storage options in the form of microSD cards. First introduced in March of 2005 with a maximum capacity of 128MB, 2006 saw the first 2GB microSD cards become available to consumers. Removable flash storage is seen as a possible solution to the DRM issues that surround multimedia playback on handsets. It is believed that a secured flash card could allow consumers to transfer music easily from a handset to a PC, portable media player (PMP), or home-entertainment system while preserving the DRM. It is too soon to tell if this will be a viable solution, however, as there are still significant hurdles to overcome regarding DRM.
Analyst, Bill Morelli, said, “NAND flash memory will continue to be the dominant data storage technology for cellular handsets with micro hard disks accounting for less than 10% of new handsets through 2011”. He continued, “Handsets that utilize the micro hard disks will be a mixture of smartphones and high-end feature phones specifically targeted multimedia applications such as music, video and photography.”
The majority of the handset market will continue to rely on NAND flash for memory & storage. It is expected that the amount of embedded memory in the handset will increase to around 128MB, with external storage in the form of removable SD cards addressing consumer needs for additional capacity for multimedia files.