Flash Memory

Learn more about flash memory by attending the Flash Memory Summit.

History of flash memory

Flash memory is an electronic (solid-state) non-volatile computer storage medium that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed.

Toshiba developed flash memory in the early 1980s. The two main types of flash memory are named after the NAND and NOR logic gates. Intel Corporation introduced the first commercial NOR type flash chip in 1988.

How flash memory works

Flash memory stores information in an array of memory cells made from floating-gate transistors. In single-level cell (SLC) devices, each cell stores only one bit of information. Multi-level cell (MLC) devices, including triple-level cell (TLC) devices, can store more than one bit per cell.

It has a grid of columns and rows with a cell that has two transistors at each intersection. The two transistors are separated from each other by a thin oxide layer. One of the transistors is known as a floating gate, and the other one is the control gate. The floating gate's only link to the row, or wordline, is through the control gate. As long as this link is in place, the cell has a value of 1. To change the value to a 0 requires a curious process called Fowler-Nordheim tunneling.

Uses for flash memory

Example applications of both types of flash memory include personal computers, PDAs, digital audio players, digital cameras, mobile phones, synthesizers, video games, scientific instrumentation, industrial robotics, and medical electronics. In addition to being non-volatile, flash memory offers fast read access times.

Flash memory storage in the data center

Flash memory storage offers unique benefits to enterprises that are grappling with exploding data volumes and slow, unpredictable data access. As all-flash memory storage solutions become increasingly affordable relative to spinning disk, enterprises can now realize flash benefits at scale, including:

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