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SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) _ Engineers at Advanced Micro Devices Inc. say they have developed a new process that could make cell phones, handheld computers and other consumer electronics significantly more powerful without increasing their cost.

The breakthrough, which AMD is expected to announce Monday, is called MirrorBit technology and involves flash memory chips, which retain data when devices are turned off.

Flash memory stores data such as phone numbers in cell phones, but also keeps programming code, like the operating system in handheld computers. With improved flash memory, for example, cell phones could gain new capabilities such as streaming video and audio.

Working with its partner Fujitsu, AMD redesigned the way flash memory chips are built, so they can retain twice the data and be manufactured more efficiently, said Bharath Rangarajan, an AMD product marketing manager.

AMD plans to start manufacturing the new chips by the end of June. The initiative is extremely important to the Sunnyvale-based company, which has seen flash sales plummet in the high-tech slowdown and trails the category leader, Intel Corp.

One benchmark in the competition between the companies involves .13 micron technology, which refers to the size of the smallest feature on the chip and is tied to the efficiency of the production process.

AMD plans to begin producing MirrorBit chips with the .13 micron process later this year. Intel began making flash chips in a .13-micron process last September. AMD claims MirrorBit chips outperform Intel's flash products in several ways.

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On the Net:

http://www.amd.com

http://www.intel.com