Spansion is extending its GL-S line of NOR flash memory chips beyond a 2Gb unit that came out last year, introducing new capacities as low as 128Mb for applications including set top boxes, in-dash automotive components and enterprise networking gear.

The GL-S line debuted late last year in commercial quantities, with a 2Gb chip designed for arcade gaming consoles. The new versions with lower density, which in some cases take up less space on a motherboard, are scheduled to ship in commercial quantities in the second quarter of this year.

The NOR chips are designed to store the operating system and built-in applications of devices, not content, as NAND flash typically does. Their capacities are lower, measured in bits instead of bytes, but NOR is more reliable and secure, according to Spansion spokesman Mark Franken. NOR can be rewritten just as NAND is, so companies can make firmware upgrades to existing products.

The high speed of the GL-S chips will make possible devices that start up nearly instantly, according to Spansion. The newly announced versions may be used for the instrument clusters and entertainment consoles in cars, where that speed is critical, Franken said. They may also find their way into Blu-ray players, home gaming consoles and 3G (third-generation) cellular base stations.

The extended GL-S line will include versions with 128Mb, 256Mb, 512Mb and 1Gb. These chips were not designed for mobile phones or other battery-powered wireless devices, because they have a relatively high power requirement of 3 volts.

Spansion, originally a joint venture between Advanced Micro Devices and Fujitsu, was later spun off by AMD, declared bankruptcy and was reorganised in 2009. It has since returned to profitability.