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Forgotten, but not gone

While engineers could be forgiven for automatically choosing flash memory in new designs, the traditional read only memory can still offer a lower cost alternative for the right application. By Philip Ling.

Not so long ago, the generic bill of material (BoM) for a typical, stable embedded system would feature a microcontroller, a voltage regulator, an interface device such as a usart, glue logic and a fairly large rom. Today, however, that BoM is just as likely to feature flash memory as read only.

The benefit of a stable design is that it can make use of the lowest priced parts, which historically precludes reprogrammability. Read only memory has long been the cheapest form of non volatile program memory, if not the smallest. But has the day of the rom gone forever, with the push behind flash? Surely it can't be cost effective to switch to flash when the advantage of reprogrammable memory is a luxury rather than a necessity?

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Graham Pitcher

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