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Stack 'em high

Building bigger memory devices through chip level integration. By Philip Ling.

Back in 1997, Intel, AMD and STMicroelectronics came to market at around the same time with solutions for read-while-write flash memory. It has been a sort of Utopia for flash manufacturers, as it allows at least one chip to be dropped from the bill of materials (bom), normally an sram device, saving on space and cost. The application most often cited is the ubiquitous mobile 'phone, but the benefits it brings apply equally to other sectors.

The problem that these devices attempt to overcome is the relatively long erase times for blocks of flash memory, which in standard flash devices inhibits access to other blocks. Hence, if it is being used as program memory as well as data, the program is halted while the block is erased. Clearly, this has a negative impact on any system that has to react to real time events.

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Graham Pitcher

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