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How can Embedded Applications Ensure Small Density NOR Flash Product Longevity?

Grant Hulse, Product Marketing Manager, Memory Products Division, Microchip Technology

Typically, most small standalone and embedded systems contain an 8-bit or 16-bit microcontroller (MCU) surrounded by a collection of analog and sensor integrated circuits (ICs), display and communication interface ICs. Garage door openers, electric drills, manufacturing line equipment, medical analysis systems, etc. tend to fall under this category. Sometimes, they might even require, SRAM, EEPROM, and NOR Flash ICs if these are not present in the selected microcontroller (See Figure 1). For end equipment makers, longevity of NOR Flash ICs is a concern. Since larger density NOR Flash family members (256 Mbit to 1 Gbit+) drive the memory vendors’ business decisions, there is a constant push for smaller geometry processes and shorter product life cycles. When a move to a new process node causes an IC supplier to announce an end-of-life (EOL), it becomes necessary to requalify the device. This adds unexpected spend to existing programs since engineering resources often need to be diverted. Microchip Technology has a solution to address the NOR Flash longevity problem.

The Outlook for Small Density Memory

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