Samsung, the world’s largest maker of computer memory chips, unveiled a 64-gigabit NAND flash memory chip based on finer process technology using circuit elements that are 30 nanometres wide. A nanometre is one-billionth of a metre; a human hair is about 80,000 nanometres across.

“The flash memory device represents a major leap forward in the move to higher density flash storage solutions at a time of exploding demand for flash as the main storage medium in computing and digital applications,” Samsung said in a statement.

Samsung touted the development of the chip as a world first and said the new chip marks the eighth straight year that memory density has doubled and the seventh straight year that the nanometre scale has improved for NAND flash.

The company said it plans to begin production of the chip in 2009.

Using finer process technology allows more to be fit on a semiconductor chip and reduces power requirements.

Flash memory chips are used extensively in digital music devices, digital cameras and mobile phones. The chips can retain data even when the devices they power are turned off.

Samsung also manufactures dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips used in personal computers.

Last year the company announced 32-gigabit NAND flash memory chip based on 40-nanometre process technology.

Production of that chip will begin next year, said Chae Su-yeon, a Samsung spokeswoman

Currently, the bulk of Samsung’s flash memory chips are produced using 50-nanometre process technology, she said.