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Samsung doubles capacity with new flash memory chip

SEOUL, South Korea — Samsung Electronics Co. introduced a high-capacity flash memory chip on Monday that could let Apple Computer Inc. and other makers of portable electronic devices pack more data into less failure-prone gadgets.

The 16-gigabit NAND flash memory chip, equivalent to 2 gigabytes of storage, doubles a chip Samsung introduced last September.

Demand for such chips is currently “explosively strong” and is expected to remain strong throughout next year, said Chang-Gyu Hwang, president of the company’s semiconductor operations.

Samsung’s flash business is already getting a big boost from Apple’s new flash memory-based iPod Nano music players, announced last week and due in 2-gigabyte and 4-gigabyte versions. The Nano will replace Apple’s hard drive-based iPod Mini line.

The development means more mobile devices can use flash memory rather than hard drives, which can fail if dropped suddenly or produce skips in music if used in high-motion activities such as running. Flash memory also is lighter and more energy-efficient.

By putting together 16 of the new NAND chips it’s possible to create a 32-gigabyte product that can store 8,000 MP3 audio files.