Samsung has developed and is about to begin mass production of a memory chip for mobile telephones that is physically around 30 percent smaller than existing chips.

The new low-power, 8Mb (megabit) SRAM (static random access memory) chip is produced using a 0.13 micron process - a generation more advanced than the 0.15 micron process used to manufacture most current mobile phone memory chips.

By using 0.13 micron production, Samsung has been able to make its new chip about 30 percent smaller than current 0.15 micron chips, according to the company.

Physical size is an important factor in applications such as mobile telephones because space is limited and designers are continually trying to make handsets more compact. In addition, because they are smaller, the new chips can be produced more than 50 percent more efficiently, Samsung said.

Pre-production of the chip, developed earlier this year, has just begun, and mass production is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.

SRAM is commonly used as the main memory inside cellular telephone handsets. As handsets get more and more complicated, their memory requirements are steadily increasing.

Samsung also plans to apply next-generation 0.10 micron production techniques to SRAM chips next year and 0.08 micron technology in 2003. It is also planning to begin production of a 16Mb SRAM chip using 0.13 micron technology in the fourth quarter of this year, according to the statement.

A micron is one-thousandth of a millimetre, and the process figure refers to the smallest gap that can be created between circuits on the surface of the chip.