Gualandris says that despite the downturn in the flash market, Numonyx’s portfolio of intellectual property should make it successful in the long run. The company’s strengths, he says, lie in its broad range of offerings and its development of an up-and-coming technology called phase-change memory (PCM). Since Numonyx–like Samsung–manufactures NAND and NOR flash as well as PCM, it is able to build hybrid devices that exploit the advantages of all three memory technologies, which can be tailored to specific applications. For instance, phase-change memory promises to be faster than either NOR or NAND, but it doesn’t yet have the storage capacity of flash. Like flash, PCM is a nonvolatile memory that stores data even when the power is off. In computers or phones, it could thus be used to replace DRAM, a type of memory that runs software but, since it can’t store data when the power is off, takes a few seconds to start up.
Additionally, notes Gualandris, Numonyx has proprietary firmware built into its flash chips that extends their life and prevents memory cells from failing. (Flash chips tend to wear out after data has been written to them more than 100,000 times.)
Gualandris says that he hopes Numonyx’s broad selection of memory technologies will help it cope with the slipping market. He avoided answering questions about cutting manufacturing over the next year, saying only that “manufacturing will depend on the market.”