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 ?
Both the ATA Flash Disk Controller and the CompactFlash Card Controller are also available in a 100-pin TQFP package.
SST's ATA Flash Disk Controller can recognize up to five external flash memory devices, up to 1 Gigabit density each, to create as large as a 640 MByte flash drive.
Users can simultaneously read/write or transfer data to as many as four PC Card hard drives or four ATA Flash, or any combination of four flash media.
Lexar Media offers commercial and industrial temperature-range ATA flash memory controllers for many of today's digital devices including network equipment, personal computers, PDAs, digital cameras, cell phones, video recorders and portable music players.
Viking is licensing and integrating Lexar Media's ATA flash controller technology into its flash-based industrial and consumer CompactFlash, PC Card and IDE product lines.
We appreciate Dane-Elec's commitment to our ATA flash controller product line," said Bob Leibowitz, Lexar Media's vice president, OEM business segment.
Other Flash products include Flash Drives ranging in capacity from 32Mbytes-1Gbyte, Flash Disk Modules ranging in capacity from 32Mbytes-1Gbyte, ATA Flash Cards ranging in capacity from 32Mbytes-1Gbyte, Compact Flash Cards ranging from 8Mbytes-320Mbytes capacities, Linear Flash Cards from 512Kbytes-64Mbytes, and also Linear Flash Modules ranging in density from 2 Mbytes-128Mbytes.
Standard PC Card hard drives and ATA Flash cards can be added and removed from the Pocket UDD like any removable media.
NASDAQ:SSTI), a leader in flash memory technology, today announced a new stand-alone, high-performance ATA Flash Disk Controller that boasts a sustained write speed of up to 4 MBytes/sec.
Through patented technology and an extensive design library, SiliconTech designers offer state-of-the-art custom and industry-standard Linear and ATA Flash, SRAM, and DRAM products in a wide variety of form factors.
Addonics Technologies today introduced an IDE interface drive solution with a PC Card (PCMCIA) slot that reads/writes to all of today's popular Flash media formats including ATA Flash and PC Card hard drive.