Intel streamlines NOR flash group

As expected, Intel has put its recently-announced restructuring plans into action by moving to streamline its NOR Flash Products Group. The group produces NOR flash memory, which is typically used in BIOS and firmware chips, but has "toggled back and forth between profits and losses" according to eWEEK. An earlier report by EE Times also stated the group was responsible for $108 million losses in the first quarter of this year. Interestingly, the group will not undergo any layoffs, and Intel instead plans to merge NOR manufacturing, R&D, and support into the main NOR group. New testing and assembly facilities will also be built in China and the Philippines, and three new fabs will be introduced in Ireland, Israel, and Santa Clara, California.

Intel NOR group director of marketing Allen Holmes says the purpose of the move is "combining manufacturing and its employees with NOR flash memory research and product design and the workers from those groups." According to Holmes, this will enable "greater efficiency and productivity," although he refused to comment on any associated financial savings.

In related news, a Taiwan agent for Silicon Storage Technologies—a manufacturer of NOR flash memory—reportedly expects demand for NOR flash to increase during the remainder of this year. According to the agent, demand will "grow fast" for MP3 players, networking devices, and LCD TVs, as well as Personal Handyphone System cell phones in China, all of which use NOR flash memory. The agent says this will cause average selling prices for NOR flash to hike up in the second, third, and fourth quarters of this year.

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