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Samsung chip to power upcoming Flash iPods

Chip maker lauds design win

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Samsung is the company that beat music-chip maker PortalPlayer to win the contract for upcoming Flash-based iPods, the South Korean giant said this week. The deal puts even more Samsung chippery into Apple's music player - ironic, that, given the two companies are direct competitors in the MP3 player market.

Speaking at the SEMI Strategic Business Conference yesterday, the head of technical marketing at the US division of Samsung's chip making arm, Jon Kang, said: "I knew PortalPlayer would take a dive... I knew that we would win this design.

“We’ve been working with Apple a long time,” he said, EETimes reports. “It’s a huge win for us."

Samsung already supplies NAND Flash chips to Apple - a partnership that has in the past brought the pair to the attention of South Korea's trade regulators - though it's not the only firm to do so. The new chip was said by Kang to be a 32-bit ARM-based design, presumably providing music decoding, a photo display capability, possibly video playback and support for the various peripheral devices the iPod uses: screen, battery, USB, clickwheel controller.

Getting as many of these features onto as few chips as possible is key to getting the manufacturing cost of the iPod family down, boosting Apple's profitability and/or making the players' prices more competitive.

PortalPlayer announced last week Apple would not be using the company's next-generation part "in their mid-range and high-end Flash-based iPods". As we suggested at the time, that suggests higher capacity Nanos are in the pipeline, possibly offering up to 10GB storage capacity, a prognosis subsequently backed by a number of major market watchers. ®

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