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Technical Overview of Flash Memory Limitations of Flash Memory

Flash Memory: Theory and Applications

Flash Memory History

The Flash memory was invented by Dr. Fujio Masuoka while working for Toshiba in 1984. According to Toshiba, the name 'Flash' was suggested by Dr. Masuoka's colleague, Mr. Shoji Ariizumi, because the erasure process of the memory contents reminded him of a flash of a camera. Dr. Masuoka presented the invention at the IEEE 1984 Integrated Electronics Devices Meeting held in San Jose, California. Intel saw the massive potential of the invention and introduced the first commercial NOR type flash chip in 1988.

NOR-based flash has long erase and write times, but has a full address/data (memory) interface that allows random access to any location. This makes it suitable for storage of program code that needs to be infrequently updated, such as a computer's BIOS or the firmware of set-top boxes. Its endurance is 10,000 to 1,000,000 erase cycles. NOR-based flash was the basis of early flash-based removable media; Compact Flash was originally based on it, though later cards moved to the cheaper NAND flash.

NAND flash from Samsung and Toshiba followed in 1989. It has faster erase and write times, higher density, and lower cost per bit than NOR flash, and ten times the endurance. However its I/O interface allows only sequential access to data. This makes it suitable for mass-storage devices such as PC cards and various memory cards, and somewhat less useful for computer memory.

Technical Overview of Flash Memory Limitations of Flash Memory

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