Flash Memory

Flash memory is a non-volatile electronic storage medium that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed and retains data without needing a power supply. Alternatively it is also referred as flash storage. Generally it is used for transferring or storing data between a PC and digital devices. It is typically found in USB flash drives, digital cameras, MP3 players, solid-state drives, memory cards and other similar flash cards.

Flash memory is a special type of electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) that can be erased and reprogrammed in blocks instead of one byte at a time. This kind of memory i.e. flash memory is more suitable for applications requiring repeated data updating, such as in memory sticks wherein the data is regularly erased and updated.

Uses of Flash memory: Flash memory is used in digital cameras, digital set-up boxes, PC Cards for notebook computers, embedded controllers, mobile phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), digital audio players and other devices.

Types of Flash Memory

Flash Memory chips or devices are built with either NOR or NAND gates. In comparison, NOR is like computer memory and NAND is like a hard disk. For example in a digital camera an internal NOR chip holds the software, while NAND chips are in the removable memory cards.

  • NAND type: These types of Flash memory are primarily used in main memory, memory cards, USB flash drives, solid-state drives, and similar products, which involve general storage and transfer of data.
  • NOR type: The NOR gate interface supports data buses, full addresses, and one-byte random access to any memory location. That means all machine instructions can be easily fetched and executed directly from the flash chip.

Benefits of Flash Memory

One of the general uses of flash memory is for storing the BIOS settings in a computer's ROM. As and when the need arises to change the BIOS, one can write the flash memory in blocks which makes it easier to update. More benefits are as listed below:

  • It is less expensive than EEPROM and does not require power supply for storing data
  • It has a very fast access time and even a higher resistance power compared to a hard disk drive
  • Extremely durable and has the capacity to withstand intense pressure or extreme temperatures
  • Flash memory devices are noiseless, smaller in size and are lighter

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