flash memory


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flash memory

[¦flash ′mem·rē]
(computer science)
A type of electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM). While EPROM is reprogrammed bit-by-bit, flash memory is reprogrammed in blocks, making it faster. It is nonvolatile.

flash memory

flash memory

(1) For Adobe's multimedia authoring and playback system, see Flash.

(2) Flash memory is the most popular non-volatile, rewritable storage chip. Comprised of cells that hold a charge without power, flash memory is extremely durable and used in just about every electronic device, including cameras, smartphones, tablets, music players and USB drives. It is also the storage component in solid state drives (SSDs), which increasingly replace hard drives in computers and servers. All flash memory eventually wears out, but most users will have many years of service (see SSD write cycle). See solid state drive.

Evolving from the EEPROM chip, flash was invented by Toshiba in the mid-1980s and named after its ability to erase a block of data "in a flash." However, this block erasing is its least desirable feature because it adds a step. To change what is stored in flash memory, the cells must first be erased in blocks ranging from 16KB to 512KB in length. Then the cells can be written.

NOR Flash for Execution
NOR flash is used for program execution similar to RAM. Introduced by Intel in 1988, NOR supports one-byte random access, which means a program's instructions are executed directly from the NOR flash the same way computers execute instructions in RAM. Unlike RAM, NOR flash does not require power to hold its content. See computer and RAM.

NAND Flash for Storage
Toshiba developed the less costly NAND flash in 1989. It has denser cells and faster erasing and writing than NOR. For example, in a digital camera, an internal NOR chip holds the software, but the removable memory cards are composed of NAND chips. In a computer, a translation layer makes a NAND flash solid state drive (SSD) function like a hard drive for both program and data storage (see FTL). Just like a hard drive, instructions in a program are first read into RAM and then executed. For more on flash architecture, see EEPROM, NAND flash and MLC. See charge trap flash, USB drive, memory card, solid state drive, flash BIOS, early memories and future memory chips.


From Spinning Platters to Flash
Slowly but surely, flash-based solid state drives (SSDs) are replacing the computer's hard drives for storage. Not only are SSDs faster, there is no read/write head to accidentally scratch a platter's surface (see head crash). See solid state drive.







USB Drives "Are" Flash Memory
The ubiquitous USB drives are not much more than a NAND flash memory chip.







Memory Cards Are the Camera's "Film"
NAND flash memory cards such as this 16GB SD Card are used in all modern cameras and camcorders. SD Cards are very popular, and they can hold up to 512GB. See SD Card and memory card.







Disk Pack Storage - 1970s
The SD Card example in the digital camera above holds eight times more storage than all the disk drives in this room full of ICL computers. See disk pack. (Images courtesy of The National Museum of Computing, Milton Keynes, U.K., www.tnmoc.org)







Flash For Sale
This 2014 Micro Center ad highlighted the flash memory products people use every day. Class 10 SD Cards means a minimum of 10 MBytes/sec write speed for HD video recording. See SD Card classes. (Image courtesy of Micro Center, www.microcenter.com)
References in periodicals archive ?
As the world's leading NOR Flash memory brand, Spansion memory is a central component in many wireless designs," said Alistair Greenhill, Director of Marketing, Development Systems, ARM.
After qualifying limited engineering samples, SanDisk plans to introduce 8Gb (1 gigabyte) single-chip MLC NAND flash memory on 56nm process technology in the first quarter.
Toshiba pioneered the development of flash memory and we are committed to continuing to reduce the cost-per-bit of NAND flash, and to continue to advance flash memory performance to enable the next leading edge application.
As the world leader in flash memory, SanDisk is pleased to be a Microsoft premier partner for removable flash storage during the launch of Windows Vista," said Wes Brewer, vice president of consumer products marketing for SanDisk.
NOR flash memory suppliers such as Sharp, SST and Spansion lack of NAND technology while other counterparts including Intel, STMicroelectronics, Renesas, Toshiba and Samsung are well experienced in NAND technology.
SST China was established in December 2001 with the charter of developing and selling flash memory, ROM/RAM combo and embedded controller products in the Chinese marketplace, as well as providing embedded flash memory design and manufacturing services to Chinese design houses.
The GBDriver([R]) RA6 series features improved NAND Flash memory management methods, and even when data writing to the memory is excessively concentrated, data is not concentrated in one area of the memory, increasing multiple use and capacity of the memory chip and enhancing reliability even when NAND Flash memory chips are used in place of HDDs.
AMD's Flash memory products have received numerous customer service, quality and technology awards.
is a leading marketer and manufacturer of NAND flash memory products including memory cards, USB flash drives, card readers and ATA controller technology for the digital photography, consumer electronics, industrial and communications markets.
The standard outlines how the security features can be implemented in flash memory cards.
Intel was the sole producer of Firmware Hub devices until last year, when the company began licensing its FWH interface protocol to other flash memory vendors.